Observing the school as a place where my children attend, talking with friends whose children are in different schools – in other Polish cities, as well as learning about the opinions of people I do not know personally, the image of the average Polish schools seems very grim. Children are frightened bu the terrible noise from the first day of school – the rest of the parents are often not less, feeling relief escaping the clamor immediately when a child disappears behind the door classes. Teachers who usually try very hard to do their best, make up for the fact that children acquire a number of complexes. An example is completely incomprehensible to me cheering children to pack up after finishing lessons as quick as possible and making competition from it. For what? Why the child from the first days at school must teach the constant rush to the limit and often beyond? Teaches impels the kids to write from the blackboard quick, because the first words written on the blackboard she clean up. It builds the pressure for the very young kids int he first class. The child writes as he can … one can manage that, and many others can’t. They learn to scribble or write off of those who write faster. Another problem of polish school is -why so many tasks to home? It can not be otherwise because the lessons is not enough? Children may need to be quickly smarter and better? We adults had to do the same too, so why the author of this text makes any problem? 😉 But in many western schools homework is not treated at all or there is very few of it. We Poles answer that with pride … or maybe arrogance – that the fact that our level is „higher” makes our children smarter then the western which are dumb… 😉 Unfortunately, this is not supported by facts. School should be seen as a set of many elements, not just a set of lessons. Good conditions in the common-room, the whole system of extra-curricular activities, and above all openness to various programs and innovation overfulfilled „lower” lessons level in Western systems. Lower is in quotes, because the whole system of education there, has differently distributed accents. Getting started is fairly easy, but the possibility of development in accordance with the self interests (so much more motivating and rewarding) with advancing gives very much. That is why our pride in the fact that the program since the first class is overloaded smacks of utter absurdity bordering with masochism.
We all (each of the readers too) complain that life is too fast. We know the consequences of what they did in Japan, where only the wave of suicides of people totally frustrated with failed marriages behind, not knowing what the rest and who can not think about something like vacation, changed the attitude of the authorities and society transformed internally. It is a continuous rush – rush for a career, raise, a better social position causes the maximum stress leading to professional burnout. It destroys basic social ties, dramatically hurts children psychologically, making them addictive very quickly to the computer games, and then pornography, drugs etc. This is often due to a lack of parents. While parents are physically next door, but thoughts still analyzing events from work or just work late in the company. The parents deal with everyday stress from work providing stress that to the innocent children. Stressed children often can not eat at school. Parents ask every day – eaten dinner? When comes the reply „No”, begins an investigation – like was it not good, is something bothers you that You don’t eat? Until finally we often say that if we pay for meals that child MUST eat them. A child can not understand that stress causes that they can not eat. So it can not precisely answer. Parent engrossed in the problems of work also can not draw any conclusions from the answers (or silence) child. At home child jumps on every food that we give them – school stress has passed out, but then we have to disillusion them and urge them to do the homework. Another problem is the already mentioned the noise during breaks. There is some debate as to reduce the noise level … One idea is playing the relaxation music during breaks 😉 I wonder if the originator wondered how children have this relaxation experience, if the music is not heard simply because of the noise! Noise is also caused by stress and desire … no, not the desire – the need to discharge up! Some children screaming top of his lungs, and others are already desensitized and indifferent – they want to survive.
So why do we teach children such behavior from the very first class? Sure explanations are many: eg. a teacher needs a rest too, so let the kids hurry-up, teachers themselves has to run all the time, so why those kids have to be more relaxed let’s learn them to hurry now – it will be easier afterwords… but it is wrong! It will never be better for them. In fact it will get increasingly harder. If they will not learn as a kids how to build a distance, thinking and planning, positive assertiveness, self-expression, believing in their own abilities, then they will fall in to the spiral planned and prepared by adults.
At the same time there are many programs completely changing the functioning of the school. Let me give just two examples here of whom I have knowledge, so I’m writing this with full conviction as to the effectiveness – a movement SLOW and the HIP program. These are not magical happenings like shout out the frustration or in my opinion fatal in effects the radical ways of the stress education. Programs described here are based on science – especially psychology and experience. SLOW, the movement of which I am a great admirator, even though I have met its founder – Carl Honore only once in 2015 at a Educational Congress in Katowice. After hearing a lecture and a short conversation with this man who he could speak beautifully, I saw all the mistakes that are committed against children in the polish school. Honore often used a personal example and was very suggestive, so what he said sank deep into the mind and soul. He said what we know to be true, but often a pang of conscience – both the school and the parent. His movement is the perfect answer to the ills of the school. SLOW does not suggest just to live slower because it is clear that you need to maintain the good work that you need to be on time etc. SLOW speaks of the better time organizing with right emphasis on crucial points, and generating time for relaxation and rest. With the right planing of the day, that can be achieved, even if the reader shake right now his head in disbelief. In particular, school is a perfect place where you can plan the schedules, so as to gain time for children to momentarily slow down. Honore teaches that, within the framework put in place for schools and universities, but also the program is introduced in businesses, services, military etc. Representatives of the largest schools asking for the implementation of his program because they see how much better their inner systems are workings.
Another program that I know very well is the Heroic Imagination Project – entirely developed by prof. Philip Zimbardo. It has a completely different course, but the assumptions and effects are similar in nature. HIP teaches children of openness, compassion, responsibility, courage in overcoming barriers, including eg. the effect of passive bystander. Professor also teaches that a hero can be anyone, and to become the one, it is „enough” to help a friend who has forgotten backpack and colleagues in the class laughing at him, or showing the right path to colleague, who after a few days at school still lost. This is what the reader of these words may seem quite trivial, but for a child in trouble could be the biggest stress in its life that will cause trauma for a very long time. If we just want we can remember a situation of our own childhood, which is remembered just because of extremely bad impression. Project HIP has its own application, like SLOW, for non-school institutions. Part of the experiences used to HIP comes from the famous Stanford Prison Experiment prof. Zimbardo which appeared as the extreme conditions when a good man turns evil. This type of amazing experiences and achievements of Professor Zimbardo make the project HIP applies to companies, corporations, services, etc ..
The schools covered only by the programs SLOW or/and the HIP, the noise level is reduced automatically. Children are more confident, but not arrogant, and what is important are calmer. On the one hand they know they can count on the help and kindness of the class/school mates, but also themselves want to assistance to others. Also parents would feel the influence of that program at home quickly. By lowering stress levels allow children to easier learning, children better nourish. Teachers are much more active. At the same time school is seen as a modern and child-friendly (and it is not a slogan of party programs :-)).
Movie with prof. Zimbardo speech from the CENCROZ inauguration: Link
HIP program in the CENCROZ: Link