Culture    |    Wellness    |    Performance

A System in Distress

Bob Wilkie

Bob Wilkie

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Since 2009, IGM has been working with education institutions, primarily with students, to better understand mental health and its effects on youth. 

Early in 2020, along with others, we identified that the pandemic would afflict the education systems. The loss of routines, the joy of seeing students interact and learn, and the lack of well-being of their students. In fact, it has created more chaos than anyone could have anticipated. 

Educators, administrators and entire districts have been reeling for over two years. They have been asked and required to do much more than their job descriptions state. They have been asked to keep the students safe when allowed in school, and when not; forced to teach online and to keep them engaged through a screen where they cannot control the environment. All the while still managing their own families at home. 

Teachers and administrators are often informed just as we the public are, and with less than ample time to make the necessary arrangements. They have to scramble to move lessons online; they have to figure out what to do with their children. Balance is impossible as they adapt as best they can to support our children.  

The education system is far from perfect. It is demanding and full of ego; the culture can be toxic. It is hard not to shed a tear when listening to their shared stories. It is often the case that those who care deeply for the well-being of others do not take care of themselves. 

These human beings have been pushed to the limit. Like the rest of us, they are at a loss for words as no words can describe the state of the world today. Days are filled with uncertainty, fear, and worry. Unfortunately, this contributes to unhealthy mindsets and will lead to afflictions that will change generations to come. 

Students are suffering. Some children do not know school without a mask. Students who have done what has been asked have been denied their graduation ceremony, which marks a significant achievement in their young lives. They have been disappointed countless times and are not growing up in an environment that will help develop valuable life skills. They are learning the opposite, to not trust others, to judge the values of others, and all of this contributes to them growing up with excessive stress and social anxiety. These afflictions will alter the generations to come and the fallout will likely be far more significant than we can imagine today. 

The system is in trouble; the individuals are battling every day. Experienced teachers are quitting; young teachers are questioning themselves and the choice they made. Students are not considering teaching as a career. Why would they? The result of this is going to cause more and more issues in the future. What will happen when we do not have enough teachers in the future to educate the next generation?

Here’s the good news, we can help them. We can show patience and understanding. It is not their choice to shut down schools. They suffer as much as everyone else, if not more. We can support the people who have one of the most important jobs in our society.  We can make sure the next generation is better than we are. 

The children are our future, and we need to do all that we can to support our teachers. These are the people who have dedicated their lives to making sure our kids are educated and understand the importance of learning. A thankless job at times, a demanding job always. 

So the next time you get frustrated by the restrictions, the shutdowns, or the fact that our kids have to wear masks to school, please remember, our teachers are a courageous group that we need to appreciate and support. They are doing their jobs in a system that is in distress. 
If you are a teacher or a support staff member working within a school or online school, please reach out to us at [email protected] for information about our complimentary 50-minute IGM Mental Wealth presentation. We would love to provide this complimentary presentation to you and your coworkers to support mental well-being within the education system.

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.