Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Stop whining!

Today I remembered this slogan, which was used in an MTV environmental campaign some years back. It came to my mind after our school development group meeting. The goal of the group is to get all our teachers involved in 'a campaign' to change some of our ingrained practices to be better able to help our students learn.

Since its inception back in 2002 our development group has worked hard to tackle problems, such as students' lack of motivation and aimless drifting at school, and consequent teacher frustration and cynicism. Over the year these problems have led to a culture of teachers whining and complaining about the recurring themes of  irregular school attendance, neglect of homework assignments and general apathy and low performance among students, accentuated by our aging and long-standing permanent staff. Year in and year out the staff room echoes with us listing the same problems again. Of course, every now and then, it is healthy to do a bit of complaining to vent out when you're feeling tired and fed up after a disappointing class. But to keep going through the same - largely structural or pedagogical - problems without seeking possible solutions, is useless and sets a vicious cycle of passive helplessness and shifting the blame. The unquestioned belief is that we teachers are doing the best we can, and even more, while it's the students who aren't pulling their weight.

There is an old wisdom that rings more true to me here: "if you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got." Why does this need spelling out? We need to break out of stuck-in-a-rut patterns. And for that we will need innovation and creativity to instill an environment of hope and enthusiasm instead of the eternal whining. Maybe it would rub off on our students, too, and we might witness unpredictable results.

In our meeting, we decided to create an online discussion forum to start actively looking for constructive solutions that would energize us all. In the forum complaints about the problems that we all recognize too well by now are strongly discouraged. I look forward to seeing the response from the rest of the staff.

Photo: IF YOU'RE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION THEN... by Lulu Vision on Flickr

No comments: