School to me can often be compared to a game of poker. You have a game that gives people the opportunity to play hard, collect chips with the end jackpot of an all in reward. Now in this game of poker we have a few different type of players, the risk takers, the consistent players, the jokers and the last but most important the forgotten ones.
The Risk Takers; plenty of chips, willing to risk it all, take a chance and not worry about the end result
The Consistent Players: average stack of chips, hard workers, who work progressively towards the top
The Jokers; plenty of chips, distracting others and playing every hand possible with no fear or care for the rules
The Forgotten Ones; the single chip players, the ones who make no sound and are never willing to play a hand
It’s these forgotten ones that are the most curios and the players that intrigue us the most. The ones who are looking for that courage to risk it all or even just play that one hand and find some success. The forgotten ones are those students who we all have in our classrooms who sit back quietly without making a sound, doing the bare minimums and going by without getting noticed. So we ask ourselves is it because they don’t want to be noticed or play the game? Or is it because they fear that being noticed will be the hand that risks it all, to lose and to never to return to the game again?
School has become an arena for competition, encouraging kids to compete against each other through high risk games or exams in order to seek out the best or the chip leaders. An arena that doesn’t encourage failure and creates an atmosphere of fear and despair. Now being one of the forgotten ones means an atmosphere of anxiety, fear and discouragement. An atmosphere that doesn’t encourage students to ask questions, to learn from their mistakes or enquire and seek help.
We need to change this game of poker, this game called school and create an atmosphere that encourages those forgotten ones to join in the game. We need to enable our skills and be proactive with our thinking and devise new ways to encourage failure and mistakes so that students learn and ask questions. Help students to understand that it is all part of the process and that if at first we don’t succeed try, try, try again. We need to increase those chips that students come to school with in order for all students to play every hand and to risk it all without the fear of being ridiculed, taunted or undermined by their peers. A fear that the forgotten ones feel everyday they come to school. A fear that comes from the fact that they are only ever carrying one or two chips everyday wondering if it is worth risking it all or just continuing to be one of the forgotten ones.