Our knowledge about job performance is encyclopedic.
We know that the working environment plays a role, as does the interaction with colleagues and superiors.
In a nutshell: We know that a worker performs best when he is content in every aspect of the job. We also know that a worker performs best if there are no troubles bothering her outside the job. Distractions of any kind are anathema to gold-medal performance.
Students frequently say that if they were getting paid to be in school, they would put more effort into their work, be on time, and such.
Well, they are getting paid. Room and board, clothing, taxi services, vacations, Internet and cellphone access are all things that adults provide. But kids don’t get these things for free. In exchange, they have to work – more specifically, they have to play and they have to learn.
There’s nothing trivial about either of these things. Through playing and learning they are acquiring skills, insights, knowledge, ways to behave, morals and values.
And, like (most) adult work, this is necessary work. It needs to be accomplished so that society has the workers needed to provide all the goods and services that we rely on today in the years to come.
Is it not conceivable that one would want to keep all distractions, or at least most, away from the individual in such a job, in this case, from the child? Is this not what adults are supposed to do for their young ones? In most cases the kids are not responsible for the problems that occupy them anyway, and so cannot do much to change things. It is up to responsible adults to step up.
Kids’ minds today are frequently occupied by issues that impede learning: not enough food, domestic security threatened by divorce, abusive parents, overstressed parents, outright poverty, no responsible adult on hand, nobody to trust – and more. Add to that the regular topics of childhood and teenagehood and you can imagine how little space in a child’s mind is left for school stuff.
“Occupied” space means that the space is taken. Nothing or nobody can move in until the space is vacated again. As long as their minds are occupied, kids simply don’t have the capacity to do their job.
School, specifically the adults there, can alleviate a few of the problems that keep kids from focusing on their job. They can feed the kids a breakfast or a lunch. They can help them through the maze of teenage issues. They can lend an ear and provide advice. They can instill values and morals.
But they cannot be parents for the student; they cannot tackle the big problems.
Students, like any other workers, need to have their minds free from distractions in order to do their jobs. School success is directly proportional to the amount of mind space that kids have available. Just like in any other job.