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Mrs Pattison’s Blog
As we prepare for wintry conditions and what the weather might bring around December 25, The Telegraph is concerned about different types of ‘flakes’ from those white ones, which may (or may not) fall from the sky.
The journalist, Celia Walden, asks whether we are teaching our children to be too sensitive, calling them edu-flakes, the ‘lightest of the lightweights.’
The piece ridicules pupil (and parent) reactions to everything – from too much homework to exam stress, from extra time in exams to NHS referrals – and the suggestion is that young people need to toughen up. Apparently, growing up is about learning that life is ‘hard.’
Exams aren’t “anxiety-inducing”; they’re hard. World Wars and climate change aren’t “upsetting” or “confusing”; they’re desperately hard and tragic truths we need to know about. Homework is hard, growing up is hard, life is hard.
Those senior girls who took part this term in our Holocaust Memorial Day, a cross-curricular project organised by the Heads of RS, History, Art, Geography and English, were faced with some desperately hard and tragic truths. However, as a Beacon School for Holocaust Memorial, we recognise the importance of not shying away from difficult topics. Our Head of History, Katy Fenwick, led training and development days for our staff and teachers in local schools to ensure we know how to empower pupils to deal with such devastating topics.
So, in some ways, I have some sympathy with what the author is trying to say. School and university should play the role of staging post to prepare pupils for careers, relationships and lives, which might, at times, be tough.
However, I think she misses a couple of key points.
Firstly, even in the midst of a very difficult piece of work, ‘hard’ does not necessarily mean ‘bad’.
Despite an emotionally charged and exhausting day, the girls who had experienced the Holocaust Memorial Day produced a powerful assembly, delivering it the following day for the rest of the School because they felt so strongly their peers should hear about it.
Furthermore, there is often a palpable sense of achievement and empowerment that accompanies the accomplishment of a particularly ‘hard’ task.
In Enterprise Technology, our girls find that they have to design code to complete a set outcome, test the code they have written and then repeat this process over and over until the desired result is achieved. What a powerful way to teach our girls that hard work and practice reap rewards in the end! The e-Christmas cards Year 7 have been designing show their skills are really developing. The card is programmed in Python not simply something done in a graphics package or powerpoint. On the example here, the code is on the left and the result on the right …
We have celebrated the Duke of Edinburgh groups who completed their expeditions and the recent success of our cross-country teams, all of whom showed endurance and determination. We cheered on those Year 11s who completed their 2 day-long art and 3D design examinations and language oral examinations this week.
There are clearly no sign of these so-called eduflakes at Croydon High!
Secondly, the article woefully overlooks the enormous value of belonging to something bigger than oneself. If we can channel our own experiences of horror, anxiety, fear and enjoyment to make a significant difference to other people’s lives, we help develop a wider perspective for ourselves and put our own problems and worries into stark relief.
Our girls model this better than any and here are some examples. Analisa was so horrified at the story of Seyi Akiwowo, a victim of online abuse, that she was prompted to write a letter to Jack Dorsey (CEO of Twitter) and a card of support to Seyi. Esther and Victoria lead a powerful session on Black History Month, conveying the idea that ‘black history’ is all of our history. Abida found the recent trip to Auschwitz very challenging emotionally, as did all participants, but this has only propelled her fund and awareness-raising work with Amnesty.
Ms Walden might suggest that the above are topics and activities that eduflakes would shy away from; rather, they have inspired our girls to take action.
It has been a ‘hard’ but enjoyable and hugely rewarding term. Whatever you are doing over the winter break, we hope you enjoy it, and good luck to all those girls revising for their mock examinations.
Those of you who attend the Winter Concert will be familiar with the Croydon High tradition of singing the Twelve Days of Christmas. Our own Mrs Beck decided that, this year, it would be fun to involve schools from across the GDST in a video of the song. No doubt, this was a very ‘hard’ task, but, in true Croydon High style, Mrs Beck rose to the occasion supported admirably by Mr Bishop who spent many hours editing. Hard work paid off and, I dare say, both had a lot of fun doing it!
I leave you with the enjoyable result to watch.
Best wishes for an enjoyable and restful break, flake-free!
Mrs Emma Pattison