I saw this question on LinkedIn this week, and have seen various iterations of this question being asked, especially over the last year. The short answer is… No.
Should stress management be a consideration when planning?
Should students regularly receive messages that reinforce positive ideas around boundaries and stress?
Should teachers be modelling healthy, work-related practices?
(Although sometimes this isn’t facilitated by ‘the powers that be’… I see your last minute email on a Friday afternoon about reports due on Monday morning…)
Should teachers and students frequently take time and space to reflect on their work, where they are today and what their next steps might be?
Absolutely. As Qualified Tutor‘s Founder, Julia Silver, says, “Reflective practice is effective practice”.
Should meditation and mindfulness feature as a separate ‘subject’?
Absolutely not. No. Nope. No, thank you. On. Your. Bike. Mate.
Well, it seems to me that the more we isolate subjects, drawing arbitrary lines between them, the easier it is for students (and educators) to fall into the trap of thinking in silos. Mindfulness isn’t separate from anything else. Stress management is a basic life skill, and not-being-over-worked is a bare minimum requirement from any job. Surely? So, these things should be modelled day in, day out at school.
And while we are here, let’s consider this for a moment. The continued compartmentalisation of subjects and ideas supports an ever more divided social structure, where you are over there and I am over here and there is a big fat line between us. It’s way more nuanced than that.
You need English to access Maths. You need to understand historical context to see why famous composers are almost all men. Although Biology and Chemistry are allegedly different, our bodies (mostly biological) run on chemical reactions (but wait, that’s Chemistry). Even the distinction between mental and physical health is a bit dubious, the mind is a part of the body.
Perhaps with a bit more fluidity and flexibility in curricula, the idea of what ‘a subject’ is could also be more flexible. Allowing us to look for similarities, correlation and connections, making collaboration more possible in academia and beyond. And sure, there are times when it is useful to use labels and to compartmentalise, but most of the time, things are not as rigid or fixed as we believe them to be. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s surely that?
– Jack Simmonds