In today’s Guardian Mark Johnson has written an article entitled Forget Sats: lesson one is a basic emotional education. It is very interesting to read Mark’s thoughts on the subject, as his school experience was difficult. He is author of Wasted, which describes his experiences growing up with violence, alcohol and drugs, often crime. Mark’s comment in the article was pointedly saying that without offering children suitable support for their emotional needs through school, we are basically excluding them from education, because children with problems cannot hope to access learning in any meaningful way. With so much debate about how to teach emotional intelligence and wellbeing in schools amongst academics, it is very interesting to hear from Mark Johnson who clearly supports this work so strongly.
“At school, these children aren’t mentally or emotionally ready for the academic learning designed for others. The curriculum races ahead of them, while their life sentence of labels begins. They are difficult, troublemakers, a problem. Then they’re excluded, hoodies, yobs. There’s an inevitability about the next label: criminal. However long their sentence, once they’ve got that label, the prejudices of others ensure they’re really lifers by instalment. And maybe they’ll add another label too: addict.
…Then we should bring in the professionals – the psychologists, therapists, counsellors and people who understand this way of working. They should teach children how to nurture themselves and each other.”