Teacher Prestige

I have long believed that teaching and learning are separate issues and that the evaluation of a teacher’s effectiveness needs to be based on the personal and professional qualities that make for teaching excellence. However, presently teacher and school effectiveness is being measured by student test and examination scores. This system is a misuse of standardised tests and state examinations to hold individual teachers accountable for their students’ learning outcomes. There is a belief that schools can achieve miracles by treating parents as consumers, students as products and teachers as compliant workers who are expected to ‘teach to the test’ – strategies similar to the ones that resulted in the worst economic crash to hit the western world in 2008.

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Creating a Better Environment

Psychology touches every aspect of human behaviour – social, educational, economic, political, philosophical, scientific media, religious. We are psychological beings and we operate out from individual interior worlds creatively constructed in response to what we encounter in the outside worlds of family, community, wider society, nationally and internationally. Acknowledgement of the reality that all words and actions arise from each person’s interior world and that, ultimately, responsibility lies with the individual, is a pill that is difficult to swallow in a culture where judgement and criticism is more common than compassion and understanding. Again, my spiritual mentor, John O Donohue, puts it so well – ‘the process of self-discovery is not easy; it may involve suffering, doubt, discovery. But we must not shrink from the fullness of our being in order to reduce the pain.’

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Children Want to Belong to a Classroom

Kahlil Gibran refers to work as ‘love made visible. When work emanates from our true nature, which I believe to be love, everybody gains. However, when our true nature lies buried under an avalanche of its rejection by others, then we too become agents of threat to the wellbeing of others. My favourite author John O’Donohue eloquently describes this situation: ‘When you forget or repress the truth and depth of your invisible belonging and decide to belong to some system, person or project, you short-circuit your longing and squander your identity.’ What needs to be added to what John says is that you also short-circuit another’s longing and threaten the emergence of his/her true self.

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