In a good school, children should run into the school as though they can’t wait to start their day here.
I hasten to add, not because they are late! No, because they would be keen to learn and eager to be part of the social atmosphere of the school. They should want to be there. Children should be encouraged to be part of the school and to communicate with others.
Also, a good school should have some differences that might at first startle visitors. Children should seem ‘more alive’ than they were expecting, or even, in some classroom situations, ‘a little on the rowdy side’. Closer observation, though, would show that this ‘aliveness’ would largely be due to one thing -the willingness to communicate- and that what would be casually observed in lessons as rowdiness would be, on closer scrutiny, a higher degree of communication.
It’s not the common experience in many schools. I’ve heard of many situations, unfortunately, where children don’t like school and even actively hate it.
Why would this be? Probably because they are punished for talking.
Detention or other punishment for ‘talking in class’ leads to a lowered willingness to communicate. This can also, obviously, lower any willingness to participate in the lesson or to answer the teacher’s questions.
In a good school, a child’s communication should be strengthened daily. Children should be taught communication from a young age and the school should create opportunities for them to communicate to each other (and to teachers!) all the time.
Yes, this places an emphasis on teachers to be creative, to encourage communication but also to instill manners and the ability to listen to others as well as talk. But that’s surely what education is all about?
I’m sure we have all seen or at least heard of the usual pattern: a young child tells his mother of the adventures of the day, going into minute detail and speaking rapidly and excitedly. By the time the same child has reached teenage years, he or she has clammed up and won’t report anything at all. Why? Communication has been cut, interrupted, discouraged or perhaps even punished. The child has learned that it is a mistake to communicate.
What a terrible lesson!
If a child is no longer capable of starting and carrying on interesting and lively discussions, a dependence can grow on outside influences to give them something to talk about - the latest video clip from YouTube, the newest video game, the hottest shallow gossip. And so we have what passes for ‘youth culture’ today.
Amongst many other advantages, then, a good school should offer a friendly environment in which children would be positively encouraged to communicate and to listen to others communicating. The emphasis should be on increasing the ability to communicate effectively and showing children the relationship between this skill and flourishing in life.
That’s one reason why good schools often explode creatively in different fields and frequently become a forum for philosophical discussions between teachers and students and between students themselves.
No wonder they would run to be there.