Let’s change the “identity” of Education by JG Larochette

Over the last several decades, education in the USA been continuing to spiral into creating deeper stress and dis-ease. From teachers losing more and more autonomy over their lessons and their creativity, to No Child Left Behind, to the divisiveness of the “traditional” vs. charter school movement and so much more. We have gotten to a place where we all should take a real look within and really think through what we want our educational system to be. This has become an identity crisis, as people in education are experiencing higher stress levels than ever. A recent survey showed that only 34 percent of teachers are optimistic of the work they do. This is at an all time low. In addition to teachers, school leaders and administrators are often highly stressed, and tragically this often is where students have the most trauma and chronic stress. The cycle that often follows is one that leads to the school to prison pipeline where the education system is escalating the stress and trauma of students by focusing on all the wrong things like test scores, academic rigor, etc. In order for anyone to be able and engage in learning, be it a 5 year old or 50 year old, they must feel emotionally, mentally, and physically safe and feel trust, valued, listened to and connected with. This is even more important with students that have significant adverse childhood experiences. So what is the best way to create strong educational ecosystems? We have to create schools and classrooms where the mental and emotional needs are met and invested in. The growing number of schools and classrooms that are investing in creating daily gratitude, mindfulness and compassion practices are proving that if we focus on the foundation of a healthy environment we can then get to a place where academic learning can happen. Our students are highly capable of excellence at all levels but we have to provide them the space to get emotionally and mentally available and that means we need to invest in daily work of healing and empowerment. Let’s drastically shake up the educational system one breath, one kind act, one connected present moment at a time. Let’s create the new “identity” of education!