I whole heartedly believe that the basis of anything we do in life is our relationship with the people doing it with us, to us or for us. Our whole social world is transactional. Through our positions in our social sphere, our statuses are conceived, cultivated and sometimes lost. Our relationships feed those transactions, add to (or detract from) our status and give us the tools to progress (or stagnate) in our journeys.
Education is the same.
Much of the work I’ve done in educational research uses Bourdieu as its basis, and it’s only now, after 9 years working in social sciences that I’ve finally managed to put my own framework to words and images. But it’s there, and it’s all about interactions, relationships and our positions in a social network.
And therein lies a major problem in the present world that is education: the huge voids which occupy the spaces and times which should have hosted shared experiences for teachers and students over the last 18 months.
Teachers and students need to learn how to be in the same spaces, shared between their peers and each other. Students need to learn how to navigate the routines of school, the interactions of a new setting and different daily routines. Teachers need to re-habituate themselves to their working days, the balance of home and school, and to taking a lunchbreak when they’re in school. That takes time. We all need time and space to rediscover our time and space. We need time to rebuild our relationships so we can build up health interactions and co-create our school communities.
Throwing catchup money at schools, cutting mental health services and letting Ofsted loose full-force does not give members of school communities time and space to rebuild those skills and relationships. Children are wobbling with their mental health and socially they’re struggling with the demands of friendships, pressures of school and the interactions in shared spaces; teachers are struggling with all of that and the stresses of high-accountability stakes underpinning every decision they make around pedagogy, resource distribution and curricular choice.
These do not make for healthy interactions, which means the foundations of our school-based social worlds are rocky and insecure. This does not lay good groundwork for learning.
We are building our houses of education on the sand, and that story did not end well.