As a society we put so little emphasis on emotion health and well being in children that it is surprising how many functional adults we produce. This may seem like a bold statement and a misguided one if one considers the number of people in prisons and institutions across the world. However, the majority of us make it through out teenage years with – surprisingly – few lasting problems and some idea of how to function in society.
I’ve recently been asked by my school to completely revamp the PSHE (Physical, Social & Health Education) curriculum. It is currently lacking in focus and development and I’ve been given the task of correcting this. In my school this subject is taught one lesson per week from a thirty-five lesson timetable. Moreover, it equates to 2.9% of the students weekly timetable. Therefore, we have decided – and need to because of curriculum limitations – that all the life skills that you learn are worth less than 3% of all learning.
Furthermore, this is not an issue with my school, but rather an issue with the British Education System. The system has decided that this is sufficient time to cover the vast array of topics that this subject entails. Also, I’ve worked in countries that don’t even recognise it as a subject that needs to be taught!
Many people argue that these are problems that should be dealt with at home. However, the fact is that parents aren’t subjective, trained professionals – teachers are! Or at least they are supposed to be. We cannot assume that children will get the right social and emotional environment at home and the necessary life skills. However, we can ensure that they receive it at school.
Therefore, as a society shouldn’t we be trying to drive change forward? Shouldn’t we understand that the Dickensian nightmare school of facts and figures is behind us? If we want to evolve academically then we must evolve emotionally and realise that schools must supply emotional and social support in the same way they provide academic support. Otherwise we will inevitably plateau or devolve in the near future.