Are we getting things wrong?

It’s been a while since I have written, again!  Sometimes life just gets in the way.  It’s starting to feel as though I didn’t used to have another life.  The ‘honeymoon period’ of this new line of work is starting to come to an end and it is starting to feel normal.  No bad thing though…. I still like it!  Love it in fact.

I think my last blog was at the start of September or maybe before.  The last steady pay cheque has come and gone and I have been paying my way through my new venture.  I’ve had a really good variety of work to pay the bills including decorating, tree surgery, handyman jobs and lots of making in the shed and selling at shows and fairs.  Its all going pretty well.

I get a lot of time to think while completing some of the more monotonous tasks like sanding or painting.  There is a subject that I have been dedicating a lot of my time to recently and that is the way that our society under values physical and manual work.  Having generally underachieved within education as a child, I have spent my career so far helping children who are also underachieving find avenues of learning that they can excel in.  I left school feeling a certain level of failure because I had not reached the academic goals that society had set for me.  I found success in other areas and have been lucky enough to learn that there are many other aspects in life that are as important as academic achievement.  This potential feeling of failure can extend to the things that we are taught to value in life.  We often judge others far too quickly because of the job they have, the car they drive, what qualifications they have, whether they buy or rent their house and where they get their clothes from.  There is a strong pressure from society for us to achieve.  I have no issue with this, my issue is with what we are expected to achieve.  Without wanting to go on too long I will just focus on academic learning and the pressure for us to achieve within academic education.

Surprisingly, my job at Forest School required a significant focus on academic achievement for both the staff and the students.  Not that they were sat at desks at all but the pressure that was put on us as a provision by the schools that used us to have an impact on the academic ability of the students or certainly their ability to access academic learning.  When leading a provision that is focused on emotional and social wellbeing rather than academic achievement this pressure can cause a challenge.  In order to make it all work it was my job to bridge the gap between the expectations of schools and the realistic impact that we as a team could achieve with the students.  In later years I became a little caught up in the importance of academic learning and worked hard to meet the needs of the schools.  Since leaving I have started to see things a little more clearly again.

If I can assume that the goal for all humans is to find fulfilment in their life, then I think we are getting things very wrong.  I agree that we should set high standards for our children with regards to academic learning but also think that we are hugely under estimating the importance of other areas of learning.

Through my recent experience I have learnt again that simple, practical work has real value. I certainly feel a lot more fulfilled now than I did last year.  My work has clear expectations that I am able to meet (most of the time).  When I have completed my work the results are tangible and I am able to move to the next piece of work having completed the last.

In the past, I really thrived on the challenge of my work.  I was resilient, passionate and motivated to make a difference.  Its such important work, as is any career that involves helping people.  It should come with a warning label though.  It has no end!  You can never do or work hard enough.

In conclusion, we are set and encouraged to ‘achieve’.  For most in our society that looks like good grades, money and climbing the career ladder.  In my opinion this is a toxic message for us to be sending our children.  A healthier approach might be to focus on community, personal fulfilment what ever that looks like for you and meaningful relationships with the people around us.  The later has been my focus recently and I couldn’t be happier.


2 thoughts on “Are we getting things wrong?

  1. Very good I couldn’t agree more. Education has nothing to do with academic achievement, that is just how mainstream education is forced to monitor it.


  2. Great stuff Rich – Real community building is definitely the achievement we need to focus on in my opinion – because it takes a village to raise a child.


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