Our schools and timetables still largely reflect the past. Okay, maybe there are subjects that didn’t feature when we were children, like Digital Design, Outdoor Ed, Drama and Dance or Chess but in essence, the old faithfuls are still here and hogging the lion’s share of the day.
Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) was once described to me as the subject where teachers tell children about all the fun and cool things that they aren’t allowed to do. PSHE needs an overhaul. It needs rebranding and it needs air time!
There are some forward thinking schools that have woken up to this and have rebranded PSHE as Well-Being or Resilience or Mindfulness.
We live in a world that is changing at an alarming rate. Ira Wolfe has said that 65% of the jobs that our children will do when they leave school, don’t exist yet! Why are we dragging our feet in a climate that is clearly changing? And don’t even get me started on the need to encourage our children to serve others and be active members within their own communities. We seem to be breeding achievement junkies. What about the stuff that really matters – family, friendship, relationships, dealing with disappointment, and self-esteem?
PSHE not only needs relaunching but it needs to be appreciated for what it could be – a subject that helps children live lives that are rewarding, fulfilling and meaningful. We all know what really counts in life and that happiness is what we want for our children yet our school timetables don’t reflect this growing mind-set. On the surface, it appears that content is all important. We appear to be training up a generation of knowledge-filled children, desperate to achieve. What about real happiness? What about leaving the world a better place because they have lived a meaningful life?
Our children start their days with brushing their teeth, using automatic toothbrushes that only turn off after two minutes. That’s 4 minutes of their day spent on cleaning and protecting their teeth. In some schools, that’s four minutes more than they spend on cleaning and protecting their souls and well-being. Adding up the other subjects and sports should make you feel guilty and alarmed. We need to change the balance and address the subject that we all know in our hearts to be vitally important to our children’s well-being and ultimate happiness in life, particularly in this era filled with pressures and confusion.
Let’s be responsible parents and schools, and ensure that our children’s timetables reflect the real world and that we are endeavouring to impart knowledge and understand that it is useful and enriching. We encourage our children to be bold, courageous and to “think out of the box” – let’s do the same when we look at our schools’ curriculum.
Education is no doubt important but…our children’s well-being and ability to function as well-integrated and balanced individuals, who feel loved and appreciated, is even more so. They need to have the tools to love and feel freely, in this ever-changing world. PSHE is where it can all begin.
I leave you with this…imagine a PSHE curriculum led by parents and teachers and indeed the children, addressing relevant topics and specific needs; a curriculum as alive, adaptive and fluid as life itself.
And let’s think up a better name – who calls a subject for children PSHE?!
Head of Boarding