Schools Are Good for Showing Off, Not for Learning

An ever-increasing focus on academic achievement has also had a pronounced effect on school phobia. “I see many young people who are very stressed from exams and the pressure to achieve,” says Teresa Bliss, an educational psychologist who works with children who struggle to function in school. “And that pressure comes not just from the school but from the parents.”

Schools are for showing off, not for learning

Emma, a 42-year-old divorced mum with an 11-year-old son, recognises the symptoms all too well. Emma only discovered that her son was not going to his primary school when she had a call from the headmistress asking why he had been absent for so long. “I’d go off to work in the morning, and he’d go to ‘school’ – but would then come right back home again once I had left. I had no idea. When I asked him about it, he said he felt sick most of the time and school made him feel much worse. I was furious, said it was truancy and that he had to go.


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Her problem was “school refusal”, a recognised disorder on the anxiety scale in which the child will not attend school for fear of bringing on the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. And sadly it’s a problem that not many parents, or teachers, know about.


MSHSAA Missouri State High School Activities Association

Learning through Play
If you want to know how your preschooler learns at school, just think about the way she learns at home. When your child helps you measure ingredients for her favorite cookie recipe, she’s getting a math lesson. When he makes sand castles at the beach and then watches the wave wash them away, he’s learning earth science — although he’s probably not ready to understand the term “erosion.”

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Her greatest source of help was a school therapist, who knew a lot about anxiety. She made her realise that she was missing out not only on lessons but on fun – nights out, clubbing, normal teenage stuff.

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Kitty is now 20 and working full-time as a child-minder. She is still not 100 per cent, but she’s gone to Bestival this weekend – which would have been impossible several years ago. She’s not at university, not because of her school phobia, but because she saw so many people with degrees working in our local Starbucks.

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Science
Preschoolers are scientists. They learn about the world by observing and experimenting. Natural things fascinate them, from rocks, to animals, to their baby brothers and sisters. They also notice the many ways that they can influence the natural world. Preschoolers may plant seeds, or watch what happens to an ice cube in a warm room. They’ll test what sinks and what floats at the water table, and which blowers make the biggest bubbles. They’ll find non-fiction books about animals and nature in the classroom library.

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We’re sending along some free advice for aspiring artists from the ones who’ve made it. Whether to go to school, and for how long? If not, what do you do instead? It’s a topic discussed online, on stage and off, and continuously among the artists. Be sure to add your voice.