Change the Narrative

How we talk about school matters. I hear kids speaking negatively about school all the time, even more so in recent years. This summer, I started paying a little more attention to how schools are portrayed in movies and tv shows. For the most part, it’s not good. I doubt social media conveys a rosy picture of the institution either. So, it’s no wonder kids perceive school as a dreaded place some adult is forcing them to attend.

Yesterday, my middle-school-aged son said, “I hate school.” Reader, we are still on summer break! My kid is already in a negative mindset about school and the year hasn’t even started! I responded, “You don’t HATE school. Be specific. What aspect are you referring to?”

“I hate sitting in a desk for so long.” That I can accept. “I hate when the teacher keeps talking and talking and I just want them to get to the point. Sometimes they talk with all these side stories and I lose focus and then I miss the important parts.” This one I also understand, but I think we can work on it.

We need to consider reframing how we think and talk about school. The general “I hate school” statement is not helpful. It’s too big to solve. But, if we really don’t like an aspect, let’s identify it so we can work toward a change.

What if we also look for things we like about school and talk about those things? Instead of the negative focus, how would the conversation feel if we highlighted something positive from the educational institution? For the most part, my students are smiling those first days of school. They all claim to dread it, but they are enjoying being there. How can we help them change the narrative to acknowledge the parts that bring those smiles?

My plan to start the year will be to start conversations with, “Tell me something good that happened at school today.” I may even have some start of class journal prompts of a similar fashion 🙂

May your school year be amazing!!

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