It was inevitable that, like a clash of cultures, struggles at school would emerge. My son, aged 15, ever the independent learner, is not enjoying the classroom. He finds it frustrating how much time is wasted due to poor behaviour, and by having to move at the pace of the whole group. He wants to get on, to dig deeper, to work independently. He wants the teachers just to show him where he is headed and then leave him alone to get on with it. And what is wrong with that? Surely these are the kind of learners we want .... aren't they?
I have emailed the Principal .... I am hopeful we can find some sort of happy compromise. But what if we can't? I feel anxious.
When I was at sixth form, our timetabled lessons were pretty sparse. Between lectures, we were free to go home, to study at college or just to hang out with our friends. We were free. We managed our own time. I loved it. I don't think, even at sixth form, it is this way anymore. Why is there the need to constantly monitor our young people? It betrays such a lack of trust in their own ability to drive their own learning; it is frustrating.
My son wants a space where he can sit and just get on with his work quietly. Should this be too much to ask of a modern school? The teachers express concern that he would rather work alone than in the classroom ... But we are not talking about an unwillingness to collaborate, or an inability to work in a team ... He loves collaborative learning and, this week, has proved by his participation in the F1 in Schools regional competition that he is perfectly able to work in a team. F1 in Schools has been such a highlight for him. He is the Design Engineer, the only Year 10 student on the team, and he loves this kind of project based learning. Loves it.
But he sees so much of the time in the classroom as a waste of his time; time he could be spending so much more productively. He is eager to learn, wants to do well, wants to ask questions and to dig deep into the material. Why is his style of learning not accommodated? Rather he is told not to work so hard to get ahead .... basically to sit down and shut up, just to blend in. Why do we think this is good enough? Why do we set the ceiling so low?