As educators, we have a fairly complicated panorama now-a-days. Many times we do not understand our students, we do not know why they cannot stand the pressure, why they do not know how to wait for the prizes and why they do not spend enough time striving to obtain results.
The XXI century has brought about a change of perspective for which we are not all ready. Our students are constantly exposed every day of their lives to quick, ready-made stimulation which requires very little effort from them. We are all immersed in a consumer era of social networks and technology which turns us all into people who are greedy for instant gratification and immediate benefits. They find it difficult to wait and for this reason, the word, “effort” has negative connotations which they shy from. As adults, we were brought up with the values of obedience, respect, responsibility and authority, and our first reaction is to follow the same line of work that our teachers did with us, and we do not understand why they don’t make the same effort as we did, why they put off their tasks, why they don’t demand perfection or why they do not know how to wait. However, we can soon see that this line does not give us the functional results we expect.
We are going through a difficult time in education. We do not want to work as before, with excessive authority, without listening, maintaining rigid positions and transmitting only one choice: obedience and good work. This is why we have gone to the other extreme: listening, looking after, trying to avoid suffering, and having a single objective: for them to be happy. However, when we analyze this and see that this position does not work either, we are left with no weapons, no tools to use when we demand responsibility, a conscious effort with no immediate rewards and so the latent doubt takes over as to whether we have acted correctly or been too hard. We no longer see the limit of firmness: we constantly think that we have to let them talk, to express themselves... and this leads to not knowing how to put the appropriate limits at the right time.
This situation makes it essential to change positions and try to relax our focus to achieve or at least try to achieve, an understanding of the cognitive processes that govern our students.
This is where we can see the importance of the line of work which both teachers and parents stress at our school: an education based on the balance between Love and Firmness. It is an art of education to ensure the correct balance between both terms, with just the right amount of both components, as this is the secret of a good education. It is a fact that the right attention has a direct influence on the personal and academic achievements of our students. It is also a fact that a re-adjustment in responsibility is achieved through consistent firmness. Children need limits and control; they need to see that every act triggers a consequence, they need to know that there is a plan, a goal and a path. Any student who is satisfied when a goal is achieved, will value what it has taken to get to this point and from there, will start over again to work towards another one. This requires our firmness for them to achieve this and not give up and this parameter always makes us question if its use was appropriate or not.
This is exactly where the line of work that we insist on in our school comes into play.
The idea is to firmly address the behaviour of our students and enthusiastically accept their identity, their essence. And that is the other ingredient of the recipe that we are advocating: Love, respect, smiles, humor, acceptance of each and every one of our students, so they feel controlled and limited in their behaviour but loved and respected in their identity.
This formula requires teachers who can help form self-control and who have a high degree of MORAL AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE; they know how to put themselves in the situation of the students, they know how to limit and denote their behaviour, how to love and respect their essence, without being taken away by the emotions involved in educating firmly by setting limits and by saying, “NO”.
In this way, our students will go as far as they want to go in a full, balanced and completed fashion and will manage to become the professionals who move the world.
D. Luis Madrid Giménez
Lledó International School Headmaster