Anxiety and peer tutoring

As a parent, I have many anxieties!

Anxieties that are beginning to dominate include the notion my son won’t settle in school, won’t find it easy to make new friends, won’t make friends, may experience bullying, may bully another child, just won’t be happy in himself and his unhappiness taint what everyone says should be the best days of your life!

I suspect this is why I’m so eager to continue working in this field.

As parents, we nurture, guide and love our children, helping them to be the best that they can be. We trust that when they’re in school, the professionals there will do the same to a degree. It’s a partnership, where we all take a significant stake in the upbringing and education of the next generation of young citizens.

We have a duty to try new approaches at home and at school. There is a national curriculum, but there’s also room for opportunity to learn and experience in new and invigorating ways and much like peer mentoring is used as a way to deal with bullying and also conflict, peer tutoring brings ‘learners’ together. What a great way to generate positivity and inclusivity in the class room. What a great way to create a culture where positive peer-to-peer relationships and respectful behaviour can flourish.

A report on the BBC about research conducted in Scottish Primary schools by Professor Peter Tymms, head of Durham University’s School of Education about cross-age peer tutoring made for interesting reading this morning. What a brilliant way to break down barriers and form caring and sensitive relationships fostered through a positive set of learning experiences and exchanges.

I’m struck by why peer tutoring isn’t more widespread. After all, we learn much from our friends and relationships with associates and significant others! In the world of work, if we can’t solve a problem or technical issue, we’ll ask a  colleague, picking their brain and seeing if it will help inform and solve whatever issue is stopping us making progress.

Watching our team go about working with mixed age/gender groups, some disengaged, disillusioned, shy, introverted, insecure and some for whom plain old fashioned boredom has set in, is really quite something. Observing these young people collaborate, learn from one another and enjoy the process of songwriting and singing together, that really is something! That’s magical. We may be there, providing structure, twiddling the knobs and sliders, clapping our hands and stamping our feet to establish a beat, or warming up the vocal chords, but it’s the children and young people we are working with that are creating the magic; they’re writing together, reading back to one another, encouraging one another, listening to one another (some, the very first time ever!) and celebrating together.

Yes, that’s why I’m here at the only songwriting charity in the world, and why I hope George will be lucky enough to participate in our work at his school and also to be encouraged and empowered to help and be helped in this way – lessening his father’s worry and anxiety at the same time? Who knows……..

John Quinn

The D of E of the NTF

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