Life Coach Magazine

Writing with Emotion

By Xrematon @EleanorCooksey

Never before has the announcement of a Secretary of State for Education been so eagerly anticipated and when it came, the lives of so many young people were turned upside-down. At a stroke, all of the certainties about progression through A Levels to university and beyond have been undermined…

I was struck by how the intense first period of the Covid crisis brought to the fore the need for effective communication. We were and still are living in a situation which seems to be creating an endless series of ‘unprecedenteds’ and we need guidance knowing how to make sense of it all, at the most basic level, and at another, what we should be doing as a result. What ‘authorities’ tell us has become incredibly important and valuable.

I don’t intend to put the spotlight on political messaging but focus on arenas closer to home – namely schools – who perhaps face more demands on their communication. Schools need to tell parents what has been decided by the government, what they as a school are going to do in response, inspire confidence that this will be achieved, and that all this will not compromise some of the most important things to a parent: their child’s safety and their child’s education. And all this needs to be delivered within a context of actually very little coming from government – no forewarning, no time to prepare for huge decisions such as ‘schools will shut from tomorrow’ or ‘schools will open in a week’. Little or no guidance to help either.

This is why newsletters from schools have taken on a different role. Normally school newsletters are an important if dull source of practical details: reminders about non-school uniform days, reminders about submission of forms, advance notice of calendar events, often rounded off with some pleasant blandly warm commentary from the head.

Now these letters have become emotionally charged communiques, brimming with fine rhetoric (see opening quote) or heated, unfiltered emotion, in which the personal glaringly overshadows the professional. For the latter, see below for some choice quotes.

I have had the privilege of working in the education sector for 36 years (yes, I am that old). I have learnt many things, one of which is to be truthful and the second is that as far as children are concerned you have to plan around the worst case scenario to avoid a disaster.

The suggestion that students in Year 10 come back in preparation for their exams to receive specialist teaching is also a nonsense.  Boris, as we know was taught at Eton, where the teacher to student ratio is 1:8.  Nice.  At our we have class sizes of between 25 and 30 in the main.

I would not send my child back to school under the current threat of death, and as such I will not play Russian Roulette with the life of your child, or the lives of my staff. For those of you that are not in agreement with my decision, please recognize that it is my decision and, therefore, any venom that you feel, needs to be directed to me rather than members of our staff, or teachers in general.’

I do not wish to cast judgment – any evaluation would be meaninglessly subjective – but just to draw attention to yet another way in this pandemic changed the game, requiring new skills and expertise, and at the same time, surfacing new character traits and dimensions.

I’ll finish with one of my favorite lines – it was from a primary school head who sent a separate letter to their pupils and ended with the following: ‘We miss you all’.

Writing with emotion

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