I’m sure we can all agree that the words ‘unprecedented’ ‘uncharted’ and ‘unplanned’ have become part of our daily vocab. In fact, I’ll be surprised if pupils round the country aren’t including these words in all of their English writing tasks from now on…
We’ve been asked to create a ‘new normal’. We’ve been called to adapt and learn new behaviours and ways of working, whilst also required to ‘unlearn’ habits that no longer serve the times we currently live in. And, for the most part, humans are pretty adaptable, and WOW! They are resilient. From NHS staff, to those stacking shelves in supermarkets, to our incredible young people whose futures seem to have been thrown into chaos – they’ve navigated it so well, and I think that calls for reflection.
I’m no William Shakespeare, and I won’t be penning a world famous or ground-breaking play during quarantine (King Lear). But I have been ‘observing’ life and gathering thoughts I can share with my pupils and tutors when I see them again (whether virtually or physically).
1.Resilience, resilience, resilience – Whether it’s falling over in the playground and dusting their bleeding arm off, or trying to mentally remedy the fact they can’t sit the GCSE exams that they’ve revised so hard for, young people are true pillars of resilience. I’ll be reminding all my pupils how amazing and resilient they are, and we as adults should be encouraging them to give themselves a big pat on their back for that. Let’s give ourselves one too.
2. Every lesson counts – Knowledge is never wasted. Effort and determination are always worth it. The term ‘education is for life’ has almost become cliche, but why? It’s true. It’s a fact. Yes, exams are the ‘proof’ of your hard work, but I know that my effective communication skills come from the debates and discussions we had in English classes – not from the ‘compare and contrast’ question in my GCSE exam. In fact, every pupil and tutor session this year has probably been even more important and impactful in light of what’s happened. Ok we’re not measuring impact in the ‘usual’ way. Well let’s throw ‘usual’ out the window. It doesn’t fit for ‘these times’ anyway. Half the journey is ‘showing up’, so another pat on the back.
3. ‘Usual’ is old news – We’ve been called to work, live and learn in ways we didn’t know possible. We will return to ‘normal’ at some point (whatever ‘normal’ is), but we shouldn’t lose this adaptive and flexible flair we’ve all started to master. So I’ll be bringing this energy to the young people I work with and mentor – never again will I accept ‘but I don’t usually do it like this….’. Usual is out, and ‘having a go’ is in! A pat on the back for flexibility.
4. You can make a difference from a distance – We’re all inside, but that hasn’t stopped people learning, growing, developing and ‘giving back’. Not being physically in school is no reason to not pick up a book. And no face-to-face contact is no reason to stop volunteering; so many of our tutors have already expressed interest in our online provision, and that is the definition of ‘making a difference from a distance’. You guessed it, it’s another pat on the back.
So there they are – the ‘Merseyside Musings’ – as I’ve affectionately named them (just in case this is a world famous and ground-breaking blog one day). Unlikely, but even Shakespeare started somewhere.
These young people are going to need more guidance and support than ever. So, what lessons will you be taking from lockdown?
- Hannah O’Neill, Programme Coordinator for Liverpool