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05.03.2021

Will We Ever Learn?

For the second time this academic year, the government have announced that schools are opening again to all students. Parents across the nation rejoiced, but the debate has restarted as to the impact on children’s education.

Extended periods of time away from the normal school environment will have affected students’ learning, particularly for the most disadvantaged. Responsibility for GCSE and A-Level assessment has been returned to schools again, fuelling uncertainty for students and teachers alike. Words like ‘summer school’, ‘additional funding’, and (worst of all) ‘catching up’ are being batted back and forth like some kind of verbal tennis match.

As a teacher, I can’t help but feel like my students are the ball in this analogy. They’ve been bounced from school to home to school again with no particular control over where they go or what they get to do. And all the while, they’ve been listening to a narrative that tells them they have fallen behind. I worry that my students have lost confidence in themselves.

This is a far greater challenge to deal with than catching up on missed lessons. How can we get our students to believe they are going to be okay? Do we even believe it ourselves?

The return to school signals change and uncertainty for everyone. We hope that we will be able to resume ‘normal life’ by the summer, but holding onto faith that we’ll recover feels like self-delusion.

My Christian faith is a bedrock in times like these. In Psalm 33, David talks about the ‘unfailing love’ of God (v5). It’s strangely hard to accept, being loved without needing to prove anything (be it to parents or teachers). Knowing that whatever happens, God’s love is unconditional and will be with us every step of the way. This constancy kindles peace as I navigate ‘unprecedented’ situations – life feels unexpected, but God is not.

I can’t tell my students if they’re going to ‘catch up’. Who knows if we’ll settle into our ‘new normal’ and pick up where we left off. But in God’s unfailing love I am completely certain. It’s this certainty I want my students to feel as they come back into my classroom. Modelling the constancy of that love, channelling it from God, may allow students, parents, and colleagues alike to find the same sense of peace and security that I have.

Kate Hollins
Kate is a secondary school French teacher, and lives in Nottingham.

 

 

Comments

  1. This is so helpful, am encouraged by the reminder that ‘life seems unexpected but God is not’, and also challenged about how I can model the constancy of God’s love to my colleagues and students (I teach at a university).
    Thank You so much.

    By Kerry Williams - 5 Mar 2021
  2. A great read and reminder as I hear back in to school for the first time in weeks to prepare for Monday! Thanks!

    By Andrew Vaughan - 5 Mar 2021
  3. Really encouraging reflection, Kate. God bless as you channel God’s love and constancy in your French classes, adapting to the most trying of teaching conditions. Grace and Peace to you in Christ today.

    By Dave Benson - 5 Mar 2021
  4. Wishing you the very best for Monday. Lucky students in your classes.

    By Tracey Burch - 5 Mar 2021
  5. Thank you Kate and good luck. We constantly hear our children have lost out on their schooling, but as a youth leader, I am just as concerned about their loss of confidence and learnings from face-to-face social interaction. I pray we can support and nurture our youth through the whole impact of these lockdowns and send them into adulthood with the knowledge and skills they need to be rounded individuals.

    By Liz Radford - 5 Mar 2021
  6. Thanks Kate – well written. As a school governor, I feel we very much have our priorities wrong when it comes to the education system.

    By Laura Read - 5 Mar 2021
  7. A Beautiful writing Kate.
    No spin. No being economic with the truth.
    Just telling it as it is.
    Thank you for being a teacher and i pray that we are energised with the Peace and Joy that comes from the Hope of trusting in our Great God.

    By Kevin Reynolds - 5 Mar 2021
  8. Amen! This is exactly what students need to hearing right now. Now we just need Boris to catch up…Come Holy Spirit into all their meetings and decisions. Let fear of failure be gone and may the needs of the children and staff stay central.

    By Kathryn Munday - 5 Mar 2021
  9. The need to catch up Is the reality. I’m surprised that the author doesn’t seem to realise that she is in a position to be able to inspire her pupils that they will be able to catch up, with hard work and dedication.

    Otherwise it just encourages failure, and the rather too prevalent assumption that people are helpless victims, and that everything is someone or something else’s fault.

    Inspiring can do teachers are needed!

    By David Cockburn - 5 Mar 2021
  10. Thank you, Kate. I share your concern for children about the “newsroom” language that is bandied about every day. It helps nobody to say that children face a “growing mental health crisis”, “loss of confidence” and that they will “need to catch up” and similar. Our children need confident, reassuriing teachers and parents who support them with warmth and understanding in these new challenges and encourage them daily. Children are very resilient given the right attitudes around them. I so agree that Christian faith can provide the bedrock from which to do that daily.

    By Jeremy Clare - 5 Mar 2021
  11. Wonderful encouraging reminder for us in all our circumstances … the eternal spirit opening up that fond promise right into the heart. His love endures forever and is unfailing. Selah! May our great teacher glorify and pour through ours. Thank you Kate.

    By Yazz - 6 Mar 2021
  12. Hi Kate, well you know, I’ve been thinking about my parents, growing up in Dover during wartime. My mum spent countless days & nights in the caves under the cliffs during constant air raids. All 6 children in the family were evacuated for 2 years to Wales, and mum left school at 14 to work. Despite all of that, her English, spelling, maths were all excellent, and she was generally a Happy well rounded woman.
    So, let’s take hope from that, and encourage our kids that it will be ok, and keep loving them!

    By Paula Mullens - 11 Mar 2021

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