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Wellbeing, Relationships and Teaching as a Caring Profession?

I came across this fascinating article in “The International Educator” that is very poignant for the current conversations taking place on Wellbeing, especially among International Schools. In this article Mark G. Harrison, Stephen E. Chatelier and Elke M. Van Dermijnsbrugge are discussing what is meant by “wellbeing” in schools, situating its current rise within the context of a broader school culture. They then go on to suggest that when wellbeing becomes a task for teachers to perform within a culture of accountability and customer satisfaction, rather than something deeply connected to the human relations of care, its achievement is unlikely and, indeed, an increased focus on wellbeing might even be detrimental. Wellbeing has become without a doubt an area of ever increasing focus for schools across the world. Given that teaching has generally been understood as a caring profession, this may not come as a surprise. And, given that the apparent need for wellbeing interventions has arisen amongst the most “developed” and wealthy, this new focus may especially be seen as something to celebrate for international schools that continue to largely serve the privileged. A consequence of this, however, is that wellbeing seems to have become an addition to the ever-growing list of things for which teachers are responsible. The article investigates how and why an outcome- and performance-driven climate of accountability, and a reshaping of the traditionally relational role of a teacher into a narrower and more technical function can lead to reconfiguration that distorts even that which is intended to be caring, such as Wellbeing initiatives. The authors argue that for the situation to change and focus to be shifted where it matters, the key change that needs to take place is for schools to prioritize relationships over tasks, outcomes, metrics and programs - especially those focused on wellbeing! You can read the full article here

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