Hmm this is a subject quite close to my heart. I work with around 60 primary and secondary schools in inner city London, some are doing very well and others are really struggling to give children what they need. Defining what children need is tricky...they are, of course, as individual as adults. I think any kind of teaching (or theatre directing) requires the facilitator to understand the needs of the student. They need to be supported and challenged, the world will not always adapt to suit them and so we need to give them the tools to cope. I think this does require a certain amount of 'getting in touch with your feelings'. One of the most successful programmes I have seen in school is the research into meta-cognition we are currently undertaking at the CLC: http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects/reflected-meta-cognition-rosendale-primary-school/The focus is 'learning to learn' why we learn, how it relates to the world and our lives outside of school and how we as individuals track our learning. The idea is that children are resilant, they see challenges and face them and learn to adapt to changing situations. I really think teaching children to self reflect is the greatest thing we can do for them. I see so many angry, disengaged learners ready to blame everyone else and completely unmotivated - we need to get them to ask themselves why they feel that way and what they can do. The importance of this was thrown into the limelight when I heard a podcast on this American Life http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/550/three-milesThe story follows disadvantaged students at a charter school in a rough area of New York - the charter schools enforce strict regimes and no nonsense policies for learners with good results - grades improve and the students get into top universities. However the drop-out rate is extremely high as the students can't cope with the loose structures and freedom in the 'real' world away from school. The message? Academic rigour isn't enough - we need to give children the emotional and practical skills they need to succeed beyond school.
Thanks Kim - a well argued comment that expresses your views and experience. One os the points of the article was to try to locate the debate because of recent policy changes in the UK. It is a complex problem for learning professionals as well as being in a political arena.