Written by: Kylie Mort, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Purpose. Ask any successful, happy individual, and you will find that they are aware of it. What is the purpose of this task? What is the purpose of this event? What is my overall purpose? When people are at their lowest point, spiraling out of control into a negative mindset, they will ask themselves – what is the point? What is the meaning of all of this? In life itself?
To find true value in anything, we must recognize its purpose. This is where the generic school report fails.
We send our children to school for 11-13 years of their life, and for what? On a basic level to ensure they have the capacity, skills, and mindset to function collaboratively and successfully in society. Yet, there is such a vast cross-section of individuals involved in our community. What kind of community members are we aiming to sculpt? Aspirational parents envision their children becoming the next generation of leaders. They have ambitious goals of assisting their offspring to be doctors and advocates and scientists who will leave an indelible mark on society—a new generation of Thought Leader.
What is a Thought Leader? They are the individuals who influence their field of expertise with opinions that are trusted and knowledgeable. A Thought Leader goes above and beyond their industry benchmarks to reach new heights of achievement. Developing new outcomes and initiatives that will not only improve their own ability to connect with the stakeholders they serve but ultimately, seeking new methods and ideas that will improve the lives of all. Working for community advancement with an approach that a “rising tide will lift all boats.” Being their best selves to the benefit of all.
What is the opposite of this ideal? Stagnation. Doing something the way it has always been done because that is the way we have always done it. If one is to strive for personal success and happiness, one needs to focus on growth, as stagnation will breed pointlessness. Growth comes from leadership and new perspectives. Growth comes from facing a growth edge with motivation and determination to focus on self-improvement. Stagnation is found in safety. Stagnation is found when communities avoid disagreement. When they close ranks on their members and refuse to accept the possibility that alternative perspectives might be valid. Stagnation is when there is no new input when the powers that be double-down on the idea that this is what we do, and it is us versus them. Stagnation is a Silo Mentality.
What is Silo Mentality? It is when different departments of the same company refuse to share information. When each department is reaching for the same goal, yet reaching individually, in isolation, it is when the benefit of a common network of knowledge is ignored, and any individual gain or benefit is only as powerful as the individual who observes it. It is a clear recipe for stagnation and limitation. How is one to break the silo mentality? Collaboration. Through the sharing of key insights and ideas that can drive growth and productivity. Through discussion and interaction that can highlight unseen pitfalls and unnoticed powers that will ultimately pave the way for unlimited success.
Now let us think about where we grow our next generation of thought leaders and how collaborative this space is:
The business is the school, and an overarching goal is a young person achieving all their academic goals to the best of their ability. The team is the paid employees with varying degrees of qualification and aptitude for the role and the unpaid parents, also with varying degrees and aptitude for the role. Ultimately, the two departments are both reaching for the same shared goal.
The parents may be a different department, they may have different qualifications and aptitudes for the role of educating the child, but without question, the health, mindset, perspective, and capacity of that child is in large part driven by the input of the parent. In a normal “pre-pandemic” environment, the teaching cohort only works with the child 25% of each weekday and a maximum of 52% of the year. Unfortunately, to add to this limited perspective, that was calculated with a 1-1 ratio, yet we all know secondary education is more like 1-5 or even 1-8. Then there are the innumerable variables of teacher personal leave days, professional development days, extracurricular days, etcetera, and the list goes on. Even with a determined, hardworking, and diligent paid employee, this would hardly amount to close personal knowledge.
In a utopian society, the limitations of the distant paid employee would be supported by the constant proximity and intimate knowledge of the parent. In this way, the child can grow with an academic program that best supports their personal strengths and challenges, delivered in such a way as to inspire the young person to push through growth edges to new possibilities and opportunities. Any educational psychologist will tell you that if a curriculum is delivered in a holistic fashion that supports personal development targets, the child will have the resilience and resolution to succeed. Yet sadly, with the dominant culture of a silo mentality, many students are failing to get the individual attention that will support their future.
Schools utilize a system of parent-teacher interviews and school reports to avoid this silo mentality. However, if we inspect this flawed system closer, we find that it is a pointless façade for most. As a former classroom teacher, I can tell you what any parent already knows: that a 9-minute nice-to-meet scheduled on an evening of back-to-back meetings that are inevitably delayed are hardly conducive to strong and tangible outcomes. Any real advancement on collaborative goals is scheduled for a later date when the teacher is more available. If your child is facing significant challenges, you had already done this groundwork 8 weeks ago when the issues first manifested as unproductive. If your child is strong, you will have corresponding feedback from school assessment tasks, and there is nothing to elaborate on in your brief tête-à-tête.
Then there are the school reports that you do not receive until after the conclusion of the semester. This is a written statement of achievement given past tense to comment on the student’s performance. Gone are the days of handwritten and insightful comments. Reports are written from a generic database that, much of the time, the individual classroom teacher has received pre-populated from an older colleague. They cut and paste a comment that “sounds about right” and hopefully avoid embarrassment by remembering to click the correct pronoun choice, so your son doesn’t get a broad general comment about how “she has progressed well.” As both a teacher proofreading other teacher’s reports and as a parent comparing report comments with diary notes and assessment comments, I can tell you they are riddled with duplicity, errors, and inconsistencies. A school report is but a snapshot of a teacher’s opinion on a given day off when they have probably sat with a half-cold coffee on the desk for the past 6 hours just “trying to get them done” so they can go be somewhere they would rather be.
Thus what is the purpose of this here article? To inform you from my expert position as both former classroom teacher, current educational mentor and performance coach, part-time student of psychology, and full-time parent: that utilizing the logical evidence of a commercial conclusion, school reports are meaningless. They have no purpose and ultimately no value. It is a character judgment made by an individual who may or may not have the qualifications and aptitude to make it accurately. Furthermore, it will have no impact on the future competencies or trajectory of your child.
Avoiding a silo mentality takes a lot more effort than x2 9-minute conversations and x2 post-learning writeups, and to tell the truth, it is a lot harder to achieve. The solution would be a diligent and dedicated support person from each department. Both a classroom teacher who had the correct qualifications and aptitudes to successfully engage and motivated the individual child, coupled with the parent who had the confidence, knowledge, and personable skills to convince said classroom teacher that working as a team would best support the healthy growth and development of the said child.
If this seems to be an impossible dream, take heart, I work with many families across Australia, and you are not alone. Luckily for you (if you are indeed the parent reading this), your words and actions are the most pivotal aspect of this whole business.
To raise a Thought Leader:
Believe in the untapped potential of your child, regardless of the opinions of others.
If you cannot supply the assistance they need, find the person who can. There is always someone who knows more.
Give them attention, appreciation, and acceptance. You are the safety net they need to keep climbing with confidence.
Foster their self-belief and motivation by ensuring they know their purpose. If you are the positive influence, you will be the guide they look to when it all seems pointless.
Remind them, especially when they question themselves or their worth, that education is important, but school reports are not.
Kylie Mort, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Kylie Mort works with individuals of all ages to embrace and support the Academic Mind, Self-Awareness & the Mind-Body Connection. Assisting individuals by tailoring bespoke mentoring packages supporting academic, physical, and personal advancement and success.
Kylie is an International Author and Writer for Global Magazines, writing both academically and creatively to connect with those who seek guidance and inspiration to be their best selves. A former Secondary School Teacher & VCE Leader with 20 years of teaching experience, Kylie is a qualified & registered: School Teacher, Yoga Teacher & Performance Coach. She is also an entrepreneur, leading multiple-award-winning companies.
She is currently studying Psychological Science at Deakin University to provide holistic mentoring to her clients better, having spent decades honing her skills in face-to-face teaching, mentoring, and business & company development. Now, she is focused on the human mind and its power to empower through reimaging, redesigning, and recreating.