When I was in school, I was told that good grades would get me a successful life. That was the secret, I thought. I was a good student in primary school, quite good in high school too, however that was the time when I started to believe the idea was completely false. How could a grade determine whether I was going to succeed or not? I was quick to understand that education goes way beyond any classroom.  As I was growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and I was looking forward to becoming one. So, I did. I got to teach in high school and I enjoyed it thoroughly. My students made every day different and funny. I never knew what I would experience during the class and I liked that. What I did not like was the old foundations of the educational system itself. Back then, I was a young teacher, still studying and I began to question what I was taught in college, my work and school curriculum. At college, I saw my classmates being determined to get the best grades because they were noticed and put on pedestal. I felt abandoned in a way as by getting 58% in a descriptive grammar test (subject I have no use now whatsoever) made me feel like I was not going to be a good teacher. I was studying late at night to meet all expectations of a good student. I did not like all subjects, some of them were boring and some lecturers were not making the effort to create classes more interesting. My motivation and interest were fading and subsequently my grades too. On numerous occasions, I was told both indirectly and directly that I was failing. I felt miserable as not getting to a certain percentage level, I was being treated like a loser. It was an internal fight foe me as I knew I was meant to teach yet my marks were showing that I was not good enough.  Then at school, I saw restrictions of the system itself. The amount of paperwork kept increasing, leaving less potential for teaching. it felt daunting and annoying. Moreover, my students were reporting that that are bored during other classes and that was the moment when I realised that the school curriculum was operating on a quite old system that let’s be honest, was not serving students. I began to steer away from curriculum a bit as I really wanted to keep my peeps engaged. So, I had to come up with new ideas. How on earth I could base my teaching on system that was eighty years old that time? Once I started to apply some new projects and classroom activities, my students began to be more willing to participate, they were given a chance to express themselves, their uniqueness was noticed, and they helped one another. I enjoyed seeing them progress.

 In my opinion, I owe that to the education system that is old, rigid and lacks flexibility. The same system got me question my abilities, my strengths and till today it leaves so many “average” students unnoticed. the system encourages to have good grades, graduate, get a secure job (because it is too scary to go for a job you really want) and not to consider your potential. Loads of stuff taught in school, has no practicality when we step into the real life.  Why there is no room for subjects like: dealing with stress, creative writing, find your calling, discover your strengths?  Why students are forced to read texts, books that quite frequently, they find hard to understand (coz they were written millions of years ago)? The system that perhaps was working 100 years ago, keeps failing students and I feel it failed me too. My passion for teaching was succumbed by the system that was telling me that according to my grades I was not doing well. It hurt so much as you know when you have that desire in your heart, you can hear your calling and it is so strong and you know that this is the only profession you can see yourself in. I can only think of one teacher in college who taught methodology and I adored her. Not only was she like a fresh air to the dull classroom teaching yet she also encouraged us to show her who we were. She listened to us and she accepted our ways of acquiring information during class. We were talking a lot, and everyone could choose the place to sit. I chose the desk and I kept moving. I loved that freedom and guess what: I thrived during the classes. Why? I guess my teacher was willing to test new waters and we went for a dive with her. Yeah, every class was like a diving board- a beautiful tool to delve into our potential. I am thankful for those classes – they made me believe I could aspire to be a great teacher.

I reckon that current education has instigated fear based learning. Students are paralysed to fail. I was one of them in college. I had late night learning. I saw number of my classmates cheating on tests, I heard number of students getting into colleges just to get a degree (coz you know it is a guarantee of a good job (security). I saw numerous teachers putting labels on students because they kept getting lower grades. Instead of adopting a mindset of a seeker, many of us have been living in a survival mode nowadays. Conditional learning + Good grades = good secure job = success. That is a common equation where ‘cans’ and cant’s’ are still prevailing. Grades do not determine our success. It’s about time the system was altered. Education is to be enlightening, challenging, inspiring, fun. It is to help us uncover our passions, potential, focus on developing our strengths. Personally, I think this is the equation of a good education: passions+ curiosity + commitment + positive mindset = success. My message to all students: Once you get a lower grade, please do not beat yourself up, do not criticise. Instead, look at that grade and say out loud: You will not define me

 

Light and Hugs from Me

Monika