I’m not a bad parent or nasty but thinking objectively, my 9-year-old daughter’s latest painting from school is a shockingly bad piece of art. It’s use of the paint medium is half-hearted and lacking in purpose, her composition is even and uninteresting, her choice of colour is neither complimentary nor figurative, and she has failed to show any understanding of tone – if you squint it just becomes a grey rectangle. If I saw it in a gallery, I’d ask for my admission money back! … This is NOT quite what I said to her face.
I said “That’s awesome! What an amazing picture, I must get a photo of that one!” So what are the reasons we lie to our children? It might seem obvious but let’s examine 3 reasons:
- Feelings: We don’t want to upset our children with genuine feedback because they’ve put so much effort into it.
- Expectations: We lower our hopes to that of what we would expect from an average child of that age.
- Experience: Most parents haven’t experienced their child whipping a “Da Vinci classic” out of the school bag.
Why teachers are like my 9-year-old child
Both my daughters go to excellent state schools, with great reputations. They are liked by everyone, including their teachers, but when I ask for details about their school day, I get the common statements of:
- “Good” – When I dig deeper, this translates as “I saw my friends”
- “Boring! We always do the same things the same way”
- “Usual stuff”
These are not comments that their teachers hear. Children hide their true critique from teachers for exactly the same reasons I don’t offer the truth regarding my child’s art.
- Feelings: They don’t want to upset their teacher with genuine feedback because they know they have put a lot of effort into it.
- Expectations: They lower their hopes for the school day to that of what they know is the worldwide average approach to education.
- Experience: Most children haven’t experienced what a growing number of schools are now offering in allowing them to design and control their day of learning to make it as exciting as they can imagine it to be. In fact, most teachers have not visited these schools and are also unaware of how a school might operate differently and achieve more.
As professionals, it’s time for teachers to stop accepting surface level positive feedback. If a lesson or school day is apparently “ok,” according to your students, then it’s time we read into this, that what we put our learners through might have damaged their love for learning more than they are willing to express.
The status quo is being lied to
The world is filled with so many fundamental disruptions that even the next 10 years will change the way we operate more than the last 10 years. Consider that a decade ago, most of us were not on Facebook and it’s just been attributed, correctly or not, to making an American president. It’s time for teachers to understand that their students’ feedback about school is generally false and start to seriously disrupt how we approach the use of a day at school. If nothing else, this will only match what’s happening outside school.
Stop lying to yourself and you might find the children stop lying to you.
Below is a great summary of current exponential change happening today. It’s not made-up future talk because nearly everything he mentions is already taking place.