I have been teaching for few years now, I have done a lot of supply teaching. I have taught in state schools and independent schools, and I always feel a more relaxed learning atmosphere in independent school settings.
I can remember this particular school in Dulwich, whenever I went there, children would be taken out of class to do one to one music with a specialist teacher. Everything seemed to run smoothly, there was no hurry to race to the next lesson, children were allowed to work at their own pace, while the teacher would supervise the whole class. The learning environment was calm and children work independently on their task. Behaviour management was minimum, just the usual, “stop talking and get on with your work”; nothing major.
I am not saying that independent schools are better, however they do believe in more progressive approaches.State schools do not place creativity as the pivot for children’s emotional and social wellbeing, as well as academic progress. I believe that creative thinking comes from allowing children to enjoy hands on learning experiences, where their creativity is allowed to flow in the fields of music, drama & art. This is what is lacking in state schools these days, emphasis on assessments and examination is driving creativity out of many classrooms.
The UK, is not an exception, China is facing greater levels of exam psychosis, which is driving well off parents to look for an alternative within private education. They fear, among other things, that their child is not able to have a proper relationship with the teacher, as communication between both, it is not encouraged. Also, they believe that private education is opening doors that can lead towards studying abroad or having better job prospects.
This is a really interesting article that I found on the BBC. Read more
Private Education Booming In China
by Rijole Bitata
The current UK government wants to see more young people in this country, going down the STEAM route (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics), if Britain is to compete with countries such as China, India or Japan for a place in the global economy.
STEAM IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS! What else? Let me tell you that is also of great benefit to children of all ages.
- It helps children to think outside of the box. There is only one option in the box, why settle for that? Children are free thinkers. They do not need a bounded imagination, it has to be boundless.
- It teaches them about social responsibility, children have a role to play in bringing solutions to local and global problems. Children are indeed the future! Let them be part of the future now!
- Hands on learning. You do not learn how to drive in a classroom, in the same way, children can not assimilate learning solely from books, they need action, they need powerful hands on learning experiences.
- Academic performance. It is not only assessments and exams that show you how well your son is doing academically, consider STEAM. It allows children to use Maths,English & Science all at once, learning becomes wholesome as oppose to random. Children find a purpose for reading and doing calculus, there is no way around it.
- Leadership. Children can develop high skills and abilities while learning STEAM. It can spark high levels of curiosity and excitement that can see your child becoming an expert. Experts lead!
- Stepping stone towards Entrepreneurial-ship. What if your children was the next Steve Jobs? It is possible, if your child loves any of the areas within STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts,Mathematics) and also he or she is attracted to business, why not?
- Thinking BIG. Anything is possible when you think big, if your child wants to be an astronaut, you can be hundred per cent sure that he will achieve his goal, provided you create the right environment, and that is true for any other dream that he or she might have.
- Character building. STEAM requires patience, there is not quick pill potion that will solve the task, project or idea at hand. Many trials and errors will not make your child a looser but a winner.
- Children are in control of their own learning. When it comes to STEAM children work at their own pace, and the focus is not in the exam or assessment, the teachers are not pressurised to submit data; the success is in the journey, not the destination.
- Better and wider career prospects. Your child could be travelling the world with STEAM, he could start his own business, he could be multitalented. He would be hundred per cent employable!
I hope I have given you an insight as to why STEAM matters! It is not only a government issue, it is also yours.
By Rijole Bitata
Children are the most confidence living things on this planet, they dare to say and do anything; and most importantly, they are dreamers. Their confidence strengthens when they are given opportunities to do what they have a genuine interest in. Many State schools can not provide specific opportunities for every single individual, it is logistically impossible.
So what can you do as a parent?
- Do not follow the trend. Every child is unique, every child has his own talent and area of interest, not all children have an interest in Maths & English. This is very important point to acknowledge, do not try to dismiss it, just because you do not see the point of it. Otherwise you are telling your child that there is something wrong with him, and that attitude will not help in building that very much needed bulletproof confidence. It does not matter what your friends or relatives say, trust your instinct. If your child is very much interested in the Arts or Science or whatever might be, why not investing in a tutor that specialises in those subjects? If finances are an issue, you can find plenty of free tutorials online. Allow your child to self-express and develop skills in what he loves doing, that will, in due course, have a positive impact on his academic performance.
- Take him out. How much time do you spend with your child? As a working parent, you know that you only have a few hours during the week to spend with your child. So, it is important to plan diligently what are you going to do with him over the weekend, so it is a constructive and a bonding time. London is full of free activities for children to do: Museums, organised trips with homeschoolers, exhibitions, workshops, community events…etc. The possibilities are endless, make the most of them!
- Seat down with him while he does his homework. Many parents expect children to remember to do their homework, who likes to do homework? Especially if you do not like the subject or do not understand it. Bottomline, it needs to be done, no excuses. It reinforces the learning that has taken place during that week…do you know what teachers think when homework is not handed in on a regular basis?…that no adult living with that child cares. Show that you care, that act in itself tells your child that you are there for him through the good and the bad.
These are just three of the things, I believe are important in keeping your children’s confidence at a maximum high. There are many strategies out there, do your own research and add more tips to my list.
By Rijole Bitata
Founder & Director of The ATL Learning Centre
Have you ever been forced to say or do something that deep in you heart did not want to say or do? I guess I am not the only one. Peer pressure can be positive or negative, when it comes to children, especially teenagers the latter option tends to be the norm. So how to face it?
Let me share with you a law in Physics that states the following: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So how can I illustrate this idea?
Here are my five tips, they mostly apply to children living in big cities, such as London, which is where I live.
- Don not seat on the upper deck at the back of the bus. This is the favourite spot for the rowdy children.
- During lessons, do not seat at the back of the classroom, tends to be the favourite spot for time wasters.
- Bring your own pack lunch from home, for this one, you need your mum on board. If she can cook, you should not have anything to worry about. However, if she can not cook, get on YouTube to learn your favourite pack lunch ideas. Amongst young people it is very trendy to eat take aways, and unfortunately they are readily available and quite cheap. So the choice is yours, just remember that major altercations tend to happen in Takeaway shops.
- Alcohol and Drug initiation ceremony. Ask yourself this question, will I be able to stop once that I try? Be honest to yourself, if the answer is no, do not do it. If you decide to go the opposite way just look at how many alcoholics and drug addicts in places such as Lewisham, Croydon and Brixton. They started somewhere. Do not let it be you.
- Do not carry parcels for anyone. I know of a guy that spent a year in jail for being the delivery person. You never know what could be inside that parcel.
I hope that I have directed you in the agreeable path, just remember that the basic rule is to do the opposite of what the group does. This challenge will really build your character and leadership skills. Be fearless, be awesome, be YOU!
I’ll be speaking at this event about the job that I do with the ATL Learning Centre.