Schools within Communities
Robert Putnam’s (an American Political Scientist) book, ‘Our Kids’ details the decline of the community over the past several decades. There has been a correlation with an increase in the demands placed on schools. As a result, there is an expectation that schools take on all of the work of the community. This must change.
Schools do X
We pay our teachers and administrators to do a certain job (let’s call it X). These roles are well defined and laid out with the various job descriptions. Should a teacher work very hard, they might be able to achieve a bit more, let’s say 1.2X or do 120% of what they are paid to do. When teachers do this, they are praised, but sustaining this level of effort can and often does lead to ‘burn out’. We must understand the limitations of the schools and we need to support our local schools better.
Put Schools in Community:
With the increase demand on our schools and the collapse of community over the past generations, these places of learning are now becoming synonymous with communities. If we looked at this situation as a ven diagram, the results could be illustrated as below.
Schools were historically organisations that sit within a community. However, as the communities have shrunk, there is currently a belief that schools are bigger than community with too many thinking that communities should fit within schools.
10 000 Xs:
The major problems with schools being considered larger than the communities they serve, is that we would need every teacher to do ten thousand times the work load but they are only paid to do X (and only possible achieve 1.2X). The needs of an entire community is much greater that the capacity of one singular organisation. Perhaps, when there was a culture of the ‘Stay at home parent’ additional capacity could be harvested via the schools. But in today’s world, when two incomes buy a house (if your lucky) the stay at home parenting option is often not possible. Schools alone can not contain entire communities.
Our communities need to be stronger. Areas for us to assemble and gather must become more readily available. While schools have their role to play, we have to realise that we all have a role to play and must take on opportunities to engage in community projects. Let’s see how we can do this within our local green spaces and parks. When this is achieved our schools will do what they do best, and our communities will be happier and healthier.