School can be a an overwhelming proposition for many teenagers. In Ontario, which I can attest to personally, there is a crisis in education: many students can’t see how their current education can translate into a tangible and realistic future. Twenty years of neo-liberal educational policy has left teachers confused, exhausted, and living in fear (Carpenter, Weber & Schugurensky, 2012). Micromanaging by principals has left teachers so busy with accountability issues, that giving students a 21st century education has become a daunting task. I will talk more about what a 21st century education means in another post.
Schooling and society in general are changing. Everyday we see articles and news reports about how our student’s are in danger of becoming chronically unemployed, as they don’t have the “skills” to compete in today’s workforce. Employers are calling for creative problem-solving skills; visionary’s who think “outside-the-box”; people who can multi-task, handle extreme amounts of pressure and responsibility. Some parents will read this and wonder: “I just wish I could get my kid out of bed this morning”. So much pressure and expectations are being heaped on children, and with teachers overwhelmed as they are, there are obviously going to be children that for various reasons will get lost in the mix.
Unfortunately, many of these children will be those with a learning disability, from lower socio-economic backgrounds, or who are struggling with problems outside of school. Speaking from personal experience, I know that the death of my father in high-school many years ago, had a huge impact on my ability to perform in class on a daily basis. It is often impossible for such students to get the individual attention they need.
I encountered the world of academic coaching several years ago when i was completing my master’s degree. It instantly resonated with me as a useful service. I won’t go into extensive detail here about coaching (you can visit my website wwww.studysavvy.ca for more information), but will only say that the complexities of our current educational landscape could be more manageable for many students with the proper mentorship and guidance.
Academic coaches, unlike tutors, look at the roots of academic underachievement: is the student organized? do they perform well under pressure? And then help the student set tangible goals they can work towards with a greater appreciation of their strengths and weaknesses. I can’t stress how a clear vision for students can help them achieve success in school.
Career counselling and study skills are starting to become initiatives in many school boards. Why? Because an outdated curriculum and the reality of overcrowded classrooms have created the need for one-on-one mentorship of struggling students.
Is coaching the ultimate solution for all these problems? Absolutely not. I just wanted to bring to light a useful service that can help students simplify their lives , and develop a sense of vision and purpose in a landscape that often lacks both.
Carpenter, S., Weber, N., & Schugurensky, D. (2012). Views from the blackboard: neoliberal education reforms and the practice of teaching in Ontario, Canada. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 10(2), 145-161.