“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” - William Shakespeare
At some point in our lives most of us, for one reason or another, will suffer from anxiety, which affects our ability to function as we usually would. For some young people, anxiety-based problems can be long term, debilitating and leaving them in need of outside intervention. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (2012) estimates that as many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents are suffering from depression at any one time. Young people often find it helpful to talk through problems with a friend or family member, but sometimes talking to a trained professional may be a more appropriate course of action.
In 2000-2001 I was carrying out action research for my PhD, investigating why some pupils got excluded and others didn’t and what schools could do about it. I introduced meditation and sharing circles to Year 7 drama at a time when it seemed new and radical, and it had a positive impact on the pupils I was working with. I combined meditation with a ‘check in’ or listening circle which allowed pupils to:
World Values Day (20th October 2016) epitomises how people everywhere, including teachers, are passionate about doing something to make the world a better place. The conscious use of inspiring values is the transformative agent. As Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Educationalists, who want to help children and young people live their lives to the fullest, are prioritising their pupils’ social, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing because they understand that learners’ welfare underpins their personal development and academic and other achievements.
To celebrate the first international World Values Day on the 20th October 2016, the Human Values Foundation is inviting children aged from 7 to 11 years to take part in its global story-writing competition. All stories must be submitted by 14th October 2016. Schools and other organisations throughout the world can take part. The stories must be original and centred around one chosen value (a list of values can be found on the HVF website). Each entry should be no more than 300 words long and can be illustrated, though this is not mandatory.
More than ever, our Primary and Secondary school children are feeling the pressures of everyday life spilling over into the classroom. This could be peer pressure from friends about having the latest phone or the coolest clothes, or the pressure children are putting on themselves by setting such high standards, or maybe conflict amongst friends which is creating ill-feeling at school.
With annual awareness campaigns such as Children’s Mental Health Week and Mental Health Awareness Week, many schools and adults are focusing their attention on the wellbeing of pupils and teaching them how best to convey emotions. However, this isn’t something which should be actioned momentarily; it’s an important issue, and one that must be addressed all-year round.
Workload, Ofsted, new initiatives, new specifications, changes to external tests, child poverty, mental health issues - it’s enough to make even the hardiest of teachers question whether or not teaching is a career with any longevity. It’s no surprise that there’s a recruitment crisis and even less of a surprise that there’s a retainment crisis. I’ve been teaching for thirteen years and I have no intention of stopping, though I admit the thought has crossed my mind, and I’ve even gone so far as to search for a job outside of education. There’s a lot that keeps me in the classroom, and there’s a lot that I do outside of it that keeps me teaching.
Take stock for a moment and consider three revolutions that are taking place, and how today’s young children and adolescents are beginning to respond to the ‘17 Sustainable Development Goals’ agreed by world leaders of 193 countries in September 2015. The ambitious Action Plan to find lasting solutions for the 17 Global Goals started on 1 January 2016 and will continue to 2030 – during the critically formative years of today’s schoolchildren. What kind of world do they want in 2030 as young adults?