3 Things That Should Never Change in Schools

Although I often speak about the things that we need to do to develop and further the way we teach and learn in schools, I would still consider myself a little “old school”.  Brought up by very traditional parents and being a part of a community that I loved, there are things that I believe should never change in the school environment and will be vital to educational institutions in the future, although they are rooted in the past.

1. The Focus on Relationships 

My best teachers during my time in school, are people that I still hold dear to my heart to this very day.  Was it because they inspired me by a test that I had to write in the classroom? Never.  What I appreciated was how they made me feel valued as a person, and not simply a student.

I had a science teacher when I was young, and since I struggled with the subject, I was quite a handful in the class.  The next year when we had a different teacher lead the course, the connection that I had with the teacher was different and I put much more effort into the course and my work.  I still never did truly well in the subject, but I cared a lot more, because I was cared for as a person.

As the old adage goes, students will never care to know, until they know you care.

In 100, 200, 300 years, relationships will always be the foundation of a good school.  Without that focus, schools would surely become irrelevant.

2. Opportunities Outside of the Classroom 

As schools continue to cut budgets, often programming outside of the classrooms tend to be one of the first things to go (unfortunately, mostly in the fine arts).  This is not a good thing for our students.

In my own experience, the opportunity to play sports in school led me to develop leadership skills, as well as understanding the importance of being on a team and working together.  The opportunity to take part in the drama program, gave me the confidence to speak in front of others.  Both of these programs have had more impact in what I do today than anything else than I have ever done in school.

It is great to see districts like Chris Kennedy’s in West Vancouver not only promote these opportunities, but give kids different opportunities that are new to school.  If schools are to develop well rounded individuals, there is a huge importance in offering different programs to our students outside of the classroom.

(By the way…many teachers around the world provide these opportunities on a volunteer basis!)

3. Learning in a Respectful Environment 

I have to admit that I have walked into schools and have cringed at some of the words that I have read on clothing.  Surprisingly, it was not only by students but sometimes even staff.  It is important that as an educator or student you feel comfortable, not only physically but mentally as well.  I believe in the importance of relationships (as outlined in this post), but also of being able to work in an environment where people’s differences are respected and free from derogatory remarks.

Schools should be a “safe” place, and safety also deals with the notion of being comfortable to share ideas and be respected by one another, no matter who you are.

The idea that we need to continuously prepare kids for their future is something that always sits in the back of my mind.  Pedagogy often needs to change as we continue to see different ways of learning and understand how the brain works.  That being said, there are some fundamentals they should never go away and will make schools a place that students want to be.

Some ideas will never get old.

  • Norma Bingham

    I couldn’t agree with you more George.

  • Robert Schuetz

    As usual, you are right on the money George! Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

  • http://janrobertson.weebly.com JanRobertson

    It’s hard to argue that relationships matter, yet I’ve lived through an era when principals insisted that the learning skills section of the report card NOT include comments about the student as a person. Like a pendulum, the expectations for the content of learning skills has traveled from one side to the other. I’ve had principals insist that “nothing personal” be included, and I’ve had principals insist that the learning skills comment be completely personalized. Funny when most people would agree that who a student is as a person is indeed important.

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  • John Pavao

    Schools and education are all about relationships, engaging others through extra-curricular/enriching opportunities and a sense of community that is respectful and supportive. Values and beliefs that tend to always come up in discussions around educational aims and the “big picture” but need to be modeled and shared on a daily basis within our schools.

  • Ryan

    Definitely right on target. The opportunity to play sports kept me going in school. I hate to see places where they are cutting back on extra curricular activities. As a teacher I couldn’t agree more with the importance of relationships. I see it all the time when some small connection with a kid sparks a little extra effort from them in the class. Thanks for the thoughts.

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  • Tom Whitford

    Excellent post George!! If we stick with the basics we will get them there. By the way, if my staff reads this, they just need to come and say Surprise to me and they will get a free scoop of the day at Culvers!!

    • Christina Luce

      Snap! Treating your staff members to ice cream for reading George’s blog. Win-win!

  • Christina Luce

    Not sure how I missed this one…Relationships are so incredibly important, and so often forgotten. There is also a tremendous interplay of relationships with the other two things you mentioned as well. Great post.