They’re annoying, disruptive and always seem a little bit unnecessary.
Until there’s a fire.
And then everyone is suddenly very grateful that the system works as it should. Would it have worked without the tests? Probably.
There are many situations when ‘probably’ is fine. Should I take a coat – it looks like it might rain? Probably. Is it worth getting an extra loaf of bread – in case we run out? Probably. Do you think it’s time to get some sleep? Probably.
And there are times when ‘probably’ isn’t good enough.
He’s unconscious – do you think we should call an ambulance? Probably. Yes. The road is icy, do you think I should slow down a bit? Probably. Yes. My friend / student / colleague / sister seemed to be struggling a bit today – should I check that they are okay? Probably. Yes.
Sometimes, it can seem annoying, disruptive and unnecessary to check in with people around us who appear to be struggling? And surely they’ll be okay without us checking in won’t they? Probably.
Is probably good enough? Probably Definitely not.
In the late 1980s, at the height of the Cold War, the US Army War College began using the acronym VUCA to describe the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of the world’s geopolitical climate. With the emergence if the 4th Industrial Revolution, there is an even greater sense of personal VUCA as we begin to navigate a world in which biological and digital realms are being blurred.
This sense of VUCA is being felt particularly strongly by many of our students. To some extent, the period of our lives that we call ‘adolescence’ has always been characterised by VUCA. The emotional volatility, biological uncertainty, social complexity and all-round ambiguity of this life stage create challenges for all of us. This is, in part, why 20% of Australian adolescents are currently living with significant mental health issues.
In the midst of all of this chaos, the impact of a trusted teacher is amplified significantly. This is why the best teachers not only know how to educate and inspire but they appreciate the infinite value of simply ‘being there’ – of turning up time and time again for their students.
Learning should be an adventure, classrooms should be exciting. And when we really get it right, great teaching also provides a foundation of calmness, certainty, simplicity and clarity at the core of a child’s educational experience.