I have an idea for all primary schools to change the way they attribute responsibilities to young children, as I have many negative memories of not being able to contribute and feeling different or inadequate at and distrusting the system of voting used at my school. I believe some of these feelings may have remained with me into adulthood and effected my performance in job interviews.
This idea is not just to solve my own issue, as I have resolved it already, but it is my suggested system for primary schools, a new system of allocating classroom and school responsibilities so that superficial hierarchies do not form so easily. More importantly, this may work to teach children from an early age that everyone has a contribution to make and a right to be useful. It is a basic need of human beings to be able to contribute, to be useful.
Currently, allowing children to vote for each other to be form captain is merely a popularity contest that leaves some children out throughout their school careers. This can allow them to become adults who feel they are never good enough, a feeling many people report experiencing in adulthood at one point or another. Something triggers that feeling to start with and I think it starts at primary school, as the roots of it become hidden deep in our unconscious as we grow older and we forget how and when we first felt it.
It is worth considering, also, that perhaps if the teachers are running this system, it has the endorsement from adults, making the feelings of both the popular and less popular children to become more ingrained than if it was just a playground game.
It seems likely that the people who you form friendships with are going to have a similar type of mind and processing style to you. When I was 35 I found out I was Dyspraxic and I got some Ronald Davis Technique to learn strategies, as I found it hard to get conventional bread and butter office work, admin work or the type of work that females of my age group were herded towards: secretarial work.
As I grew older, I noticed how many of the people I became friends with found gaining regular employment difficult, so I asked them if they ever had positions of responsibility at junior school. None said they had.
The ‘Ronald Davis Facilitator‘ was called Axl (Crouch End) and he told me how in Scandinavia, particularly his native Finland, that you had 20% gifted children in schools and 5% remedial, whereas in our system in the UK, we have 20% remedial and 5% gifted.
I cannot believe the genetic nature or makeup of Finnish children is that different to British children, so where is our system letting our children down?
I remember vividly two things at primary school. One was the teacher deciding I couldn’t look after myself sufficiently and attributing a classmate Fiona to be my “nanny”. This was wrong. It was humiliating,debilitating and downright patronizing. It was like a license to bully me handed to another kid. Luckily Fiona was actually very kind. The other thing was that I wanted to do my bit, if only to prove something to myself, but I never got voted Form Captain or deputy throughout my time at primary school.
The fact was that I wanted some duty and responsibility just in order to do a good job, whereas some of the more popular children who got most of the votes did not earn that confidence by making any effort. However hard I tried, it did not result in any position of responsibility throughout my school career. This massively effected my confidence when applying for job – more so then never winning any prizes at all either – and I was a bundle of nerves in any election process at work and found public speaking incredibly difficult.
Therefore, my idea is that enough positions of responsibility to be created for primary school children allocated over their time at that school so that those that want to do their bit can do so. Even if a rota is drawn up for week’s of duty in the playground, or mentors to show new children around the school and different roles such as monitors, mentors, captains, prefects etc to be allocated in a transparent and arbitrary fashion, this ensures at least all the children that want to will be given a role to participate equally in their junior school society.
The current process seems to me to start everyone off on an unequal playing field, breeding a hierarchy that rewards sameness and creates a homogeneous society free of diversity and without the benefit of different perspectives that reflect the range of children at the school. The voting system encourages conformity and punishes difference, making it stand out to be ridiculed or to leave a child feeling wrong or inadequate for no fair reason. Entitlement is created where someone’s indifference to responsibility is rewarded with an important role, while other children can never do enough for the same privilege.
This is a relatively easy solution to ward off a range of problems that can occur later in life. This can reduce exclusion, serial unemployment and instead reward good effort and considerate behaviour. It can promote real inner confidence and motivate children to apply themselves to their tasks. it can instigate skills such as leadership, which could even lead on to a more diverse range of people heading into politics later in life, as early experiences with elections and being repeatedly unsuccessful can put people off standing for election as an adult.
More so, a fairly allocated system of roles for every primary school child would help take us back to a kind of workplace that rewards achievement, that pays on results and, I think most importantly, takes us back to companies of team work with a diverse workforce, which has been proven to be more profitable and efficient than a homogeneous one, where the variety of customers and their needs is reflected in the workforce. People don’t put themselves forward or make applications if they feel they will be unfairly rejected or not considered on their merit.
Therefore, let’s start this at junior school for a happier and more productive future for all of us.
My next blog is about a way to happiness in 2018 with everything we have going on around us.