Recently, there was an uproar about math scores in Ontario. The media called the results of the PISA test “a crisis” and quickly blamed schools, teachers, the education system, and anyone else related to public education.
Yesterday, we learned shocking statistics about the state of students’ mental health in Toronto District School Board. The response? Train the teachers better to deal with students who have mental health issues, and train the students how to better deal with stress.
Schools get all the blame for math scores, but mental health issues are caused by other factors and we just need to work with it.
But I have yet to hear a response similar to the math “crisis”, that schools need to change to help students have a better state of mental health.
By change, I don’t mean adding mental health support, though that is also critically needed.
I mean change structurally. How are schools contributing to the stress and anxiety students are reporting?
Where else do bells ring all the time?
Where else are you ostracized and singled out for being late even though you were outside and you can’t afford a watch and your best friend just told you she is pregnant….
Where else would it be considered right to stick kids in a huge gymnasium to write final exams that are “important assessments” that determine whether they get credits or not?
And we wonder why they are anxious?
As long as we see students as products and not people, we will create structures that work better in a factory than in nurturing people.
As long as we see school as preparation for life, when school actually is life, we will forget that providing rich learning experiences in a safe and nurturing environment is our role.
What structures in the school system can we change right now to provide quality of life and a relaxed learning environment for the youth in our communities?