Article featured in UK Health Triangle Magazine Issue 12
Listening to the radio Monday morning, 20th January, it was reported that one in four children have mental health problems due to feeling they will be a failure if they do not attain high enough grades, this news does not surprise me at all.
I’ve been conscious of the pressures our children are under from as young as nine years old, due to the arrival of public league tables and over-subscribed schools because of ranking higher in the league tables and being perceived as the best choice because of this. Parents are concerned their child will not get a place in the right school and tackle this concern by providing after school tuition, when all children at this age should only be concerned with is who they are going to play with.
Children are becoming mini adults from eleven years old as they are constantly assessed via an academic curriculum, many children are more creative than academic and I feel what is needed is a balanced curriculum between academia and creativity. The creative side of our brain provides ideas and options which would benefit more academic children, just as academia adds benefit to creative children. Think of this, the most pioneering doctors leading their field is due to them thinking outside of the box, using their creativity.
Mr Cameron’s response to this news is a change in view regarding mental health which is typical of western medicine, looking only at the effect and not the cause. Education needs to be changed, public league tables to be scrapped and used for only internal monitoring, a change from an academic curriculum to fifty percent creative, so our children are rounded individuals providing an environment where all strengths are visible and recognised.
Education which affects our children’s future starts at seventeen years old with the choice of ‘A’ levels or higher education and well-rounded individuals would make better choices rather than many having no ideas, just studying for the sake of it, already feeling burnt out because of pressure, especially so in grammar schools, where they are not even able to stay on for sixth form if their grades are not good enough, anyone would feel a failure, this is so obviously wrong.
Why was Einstein so incredible, yes he was academic, but his creativity was immense and he also worked whilst playing the violin which again, is using the creative side of his brain, unlike the curriculum we have which is logical side dominant. Children need to recognise that all types of individuals make the world go round and play an essential part in life; everyone contributes not just academics, so why give our kids such pressure up to age sixteen?
Balance the curriculum and incorporate subjects that would help them from cognitive therapy, relaxation, yoga, health, wellbeing, posture, exercise, ergonomics, balancing their finances to understanding a variety of individuals make up the working population. Show how our personality traits and mind-set go a long way to achieving success and not just good exam grades, let’s face it how many will go on to be a linguist, an historian or scientists in the grand scheme of things, yes it is nice to have some knowledge, but let’s reflect real life and save the pressure for when it really matters.
Education should be varied and holistic, so children are connected to whom they really are, following a path that feels right because they understand themselves so they thrive because of that, just as I heard a report about doctors not having the empathy they use to and this I feel is due to it not being their passion, but a route taken because it appeared to be the right one as that is the way education is driven.
I have seen reports of more teenage suicides than before, more teenagers in A&E drunk, more binge drinking which is proof of the pressure they feel, life is too much for them as they are in the same rat race that’s experienced by so many adults, juggling too many things at once with family time diminished as no one has time anymore.
When I did the eleven plus, I had no idea I was going to sit an exam until a short time before, it was an even playing field of examination, no one had extra tuition and the kids who passed went to the right school for them. I had no pressure, I remember having time to go out, have a Saturday job and enjoy myself, I had energy and was raring to go. I didn’t binge drink, nor did anyone I know, I didn’t need sugar/caffeine drinks to keep me energised, another problem with diabetes increasing dramatically and the medical profession making changes for this increase in numbers requiring assistance when the cause should be addressed, prevention is better than cure.
So I urge for change, a change which reflects the way our brain works enabling empowerment for our children where real life is taken into consideration, alleviating pressure until it is necessary, make school fun and varied and then they will thrive, reward improvement along with the best, recognizing everyone’s strengths and not just the few, we all count, don’t we, address the cause first and the effect second.