Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

PAPERWORK & COMMUNICATION

on 06/03/2015

A teacher colleague of mine from another country has been given the task to write about what she sees as a developing problem in her work, in teaching, which could cause problems in education in the next 20 years, and hints were provided to think about any new developments that have occured in the last five years or so, such as maybe technology.

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So my friend, meticulous as this lady always is, asked a bunch of us about our views on the matter, to share our opinions so she might get a clearer picture of the problem worldwide. I have been talking and e-mailing with so many educators from all over the world in the last few years, and what I found may come as a surprise, but problems in education have nothing to do with technology and all the super-gadgets which some say might be stealing our jobs pretty soon. The problem is quite different, quite ancient in fact, but there definitely has been an increase in it in the last years. And despite all its legal and logical justification, it brings no good to this world.
Education is first and foremost communication. We communicate our knowledge and experience, we share ideas, we inspire creation and learning, and our learners communicate back so we can learn more about what they need and what we need. And by we I mean both educators and parents, because we are all in this together.

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An increase in unnecessary teachers’ paperwork is steadily enlarging the gouge between the teachers and students, as well as students’ parents, keeping the teachers and parents on opposite sides, and keeping the students students, instead of learners. Having to write a report about every single incident that occurs takes away from the time necessary to engage eye-to-eye with students and parents, adding to the atmosphere of distrust and the paranoid need for written proof. We are wasting so much time and energy on writing about what we should do (see this post for instance), what we plan to do and what we have done, that we don’t actually DO stuff with heart, and teaching without heart is ludicrous and ineffective. Parents face the same problem at work by being asked to demand or provide written reports about this and that, and once they come home and face their child’s possible problem, they will tackle the issue by asking officials (school principal, teachers…) for written proof of what happened and what has been done about it.

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I have only just witnessed this today, again, believe it or not. The last thing that came to the parents’ mind was to talk to the child first, really listen and really talk. For all our technological advancements and structural written-report systems, we are ignoring or forgetting a fundamental task in educating anyone – communication! I am not only talking about eye-to-eye communication (although that is and always will be my favourite method), but internet, emails, exchanging creations and ideas in any and every way possible. Reports are not communication, but avoiding it, finding fault and laying blame, instead of working on solutions to problems and improvements. Technology is just another media, and if used creatively and communicatively, it will do no harm and can qctually aid communication. But the key is to keep communication lines open – teachers, students and parents, educators and learners, all of us.
So what can we already do to avoid future problems? Communicate! Through talking, drawing, writing (creatively, not reports), projects, team work, music, even shared silence;).
There. My ten cents’ worth, perhaps totally off mark for some people and too preachy, but hey – I communicated;)

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