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Curiosity and exploration on Mars. How long have we got?

There could be many reasons for teachers to move planets, the main one would sheer envy of being allowed to roam freely to discover and explore the educational landscape, in the same way that that Nasa’s Curiosity probe is wandering across Mars. 5 years on, not a single baccalaureate or SAT in sight.


Teachers have many concerns and one of their biggest is time; another is the overly narrow focus of the school curriculum and the bleak educational landscape. Freedom to discover and explore should be our birth right. It could be truly fascinating with just the right amount of professional guidance. We could all be “Leaders of curiosity” as Sir Ken Robinson would describe.

Some educational freedom would be music to your ears if you teach. It may even provoke a few sceptical remarks from nay Sayers. Just what is the landscape in education? In schools? In the classroom? It seems to be as dry and lifeless as Mars.

What is the ‘state’ of our nation and WHY? We certainly need a huge refocus on what we as professionals know matters.

Firstly, the well- being of the children and youth in our care Secondly the well- being of our staff and leaders Thirdly our ethos or school culture and wider community.

If this is held as important, grades will follow. Mental states will indeed be healthy. Why isn’t British education among the wonders of the world, or an icon for childhood development? Come to think of it, why isn’t mental health and the NHS an icon too?

When we examine the core purpose of both education and health, they are viewed politically as contributing to the economy, to a healthy, thriving, future workforce. The economic hopes and dreams of this nation. (Can you hear the’ no way’ buzzer here?)

We have a new ingredient contributing to the workforce equation, it’s called mental health. (It was always present but never really discussed). Solution? FIX IT! Apply a physical approach to the spiritual side of our nature. Create (make up) ANOTHER curriculum. Give pre-scribed mental health training firstly to trainers and then let’s hit our schools.

Ok. Question: I may be on a soap box here, is politics always reactive? Answer: MOSTLY! Lots of people jump up and down shouting and the government looks for the path of least resistance – schools. Or at least we have been up to now.

I moot that education shifts to another place, one where it is recognised that our profession already knows a great deal about children, youth and their development. Often what seems overwhelming to our kids and teenagers, and perhaps our staff or families, needs a nurture space and time to be listened to. When we are heard without being broken / needing to be ‘fixed’; or without having a set outcome that our listener has intended for us – we can access our own inner wisdom. When schools offer deep listening, when well- being is a normal part of their culture, it can grow organically within a school’s own community. Overthinking, perceived as huge problems, can be caught in the early stages. In our classrooms, we can share how our human nature uses thought and feelings to create who we are in the moment. When we begin to see how we perceive reality, through our thoughts, we can access our well- being all the time Not an add on, nor an extra curriculum. A simple understanding of that thought feeling connection, coming from within – not as anything external to us.

Here is a fabulous excerpt from Dr Bill Pettit, a psychiatrist:

Vimeo https://vimeo.com/220030836