Posts Tagged ‘school refusal’

Why Time Magazine Might Have Got it Wrong

December 13, 2019

 

I have some points to make about the decision to award Greta Thunberg as Time Person of the Year.

 

  1. I think it’s fantastic that a teenager won this prestigious award. It is vital that our youth have role models. There are too many teenagers who are totally unaware of the world around them and have few insights on big-picture issues. I hope Greta’s recognition makes it cool for young people to engage socially and politically.
  2. The slurs against Greta from Donald Trump and haters on social media is absolutely out of line. She is a teenager, and even though she has chosen to become a public face and celebrity figure, we should never, ever forget that she is a minor. Picking on kids is not acceptable.
  3. This doesn’t mean that her style of messaging can’t be criticised. I have long wondered whether scaring young children on climate change is the right approach. Already there have been reports in psychological journals detailing how the doom and gloom style of messaging is causing anxiety and depression in our young children.
  4. My main issue with Greta receiving the award is that, from what I’m told, she does not attend school. This troubles me. I must make it clear. I am not judging Greta personally for not attending school. I am not completely aware of her own personal circumstances, so it would be inappropriate for me to pass judgement. However, widely speaking, I am not in favour of giving prestigious awards to kids that don’t go to school.

In fact, I think the pro-education message is much stronger than the pro-climate message. The more we tackle school refusal and truancy the more likely we will be able to foster generations of kids who will have the tools to speak up about the climate and any other major issue affecting our world.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can download a free ebook copy by clicking here or buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Schools Have to Wake Up to Confidence Issues Amongst Students

February 27, 2012

I’m not a medical expert, so excuse me if I show my ignorance, but I am constantly amazed by what looks like a overdiagnosing of kids. From ADHD to autism, from dyslexia to language disorders, our students are being bombarded with medically based names for sometimes seemingly everyday based problems.

Sometimes these diagnoses prove spot on, and ultimately guide the teacher to better understanding their students. At other times however, I feel the diagnosis seems rushed, lazy and counter productive. Not only do such students receive the stigma of their newfound disability, but they also tend to lose more confidence because of it, rather than letting the revelation give them a new lease on life.

What bothers me is that in making these diagnoses, GP’s, occupational therapists and speech pathologists often see a child’s low confidence levels as a sign of a condition that is impeding their learning. Why can’t a child’s learning challenges be caused plainly and simply by their confidence issues? Why does it always have to be a condition? Why don’t they try to improve a child’s self-esteem before prescribing and labelling?

I can’t tell you how many students I have seen over the years that have been diagnosed with some learning disorder that have responded not to the recommended regime, but to a devoted teacher that spends just as much time trying to raise the child’s self-esteem as they do trying to improve the child’s academic skills.

Sometimes I think we fool ourselves into believing that school life is easy and that all children should be able to cope fairly well. School is tough for children. It can potentially damage a child’s sense of self and can be quite detrimental to their feeling of worth.

I’m not surprised kids are reluctant to go to school. I am surprised however, that our psychologists think that only 1-2% of children fall in that category:

… suffering from school refusal, an anxiety condition that affects 1 to 2 per cent of children.

”A certain degree of anxiety or reluctance to go to school is normal,” psychologist Amanda Dudley says.

”But for some, they experience excessive anxiety and it can result in persistent refusal to go to school.”

Children who experience school refusal often complain of stomach aches, headaches, nausea and other physical symptoms and are often extremely distressed when it is time to go to school.

”It can be all of a sudden that the child refuses to attend; it can be after something upsetting at school or after legitimate absence from school,” she says.

School refusal isn’t a condition. It is a natural response to the challenges that children face at school. It is also a sign that educators are blind to the real needs of their students. By overlooking self-esteem issues and instead concentrating on placing seemingly normal children on an ever-growing spectrum, we are labelling children instead of responding to them. We are diagnosing instead of truly connecting with them.

I accept that there are children with special learning needs who require targeted programs and individual support, but I also believe that there are many children who would be better served if their school helped them to adjust to school life instead of bracket them with a condition or disorder.

 


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