Let’s talk about the pink elephant…

Let’s talk about the pink elephant in schools.


In a modern world teenagers exhibiting signs of anxiety is rife, and levels of poor self-confidence is terrifyingly high. With bullying, sometimes precarious home lives, high study loads and social media ever present, a world where selfies take precedence before homework, it’s time we need to address the bigger issue.


So what if we had a class at school that focuses on why anxiety levels are so high and aiming to address the pink elephant in the room? This is exactly what Links to Learning is all about. The program has been created for students that are falling through the cracks, and it’s not to do with literacy and numeracy levels. It’s to do with the fact that some students are struggling so much inside their heads they aren’t even able to go to school. Where the idea of taking the bus to school, facing bullies in class and in the school yard, is just too hard so these teens are in fact not going to school at all.


Life can be tough sometimes. There’s no mistaking it. And in such a turbulent world it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. And by lost, I don’t mean we can’t find where we are going. There is just so much going on around us, and in our own heads, sometimes we can lose our way in the fog. So how do we get out of the fog?


Research and experience shows that teenagers focusing on projects that create positive outcomes for others display higher levels of well being. It provides an opportunity to feel a part of one’s community, to be counted. To have a higher sense of worth. To have a purpose. And that doing something for others feels good! In a world where approaching strangers, asking if they want help, or if they’re OK, is rare, it’s up to us to be the change we want to see! (I actually stole that quote from the ever inspiring Mahatma Gandhi, but I think he would be okay with that). It’s a quote I use regularly with my students. I ask them regularly: “What is it you want to see that would make our world better?”


Their answers never cease to amaze and inspire.


“Equal rights for women” Year 10 female student

“For guys to be able to talk openly and not be judged” Year 8 male student

“To be nicer to each other” Year 10 female student

“For it to be OK to not wanna play footy” Year 10 male student


Having a social and emotional program in the school curriculum is such a powerful tool for these students that do fall through the cracks. To have a chance to speak of personal highs and lows, in a place where one of the few rules is not to judge others. To acknowledge peer’s wins and falls. To break down stereotypes. To listen. To step out of one’s own world and immerse oneself in the greater community. To take time out to stop, switch off our phones, to have real and powerful conversations and to really listen. Where your voice and your ears are your most powerful tools. And it is from these conversations that effective and powerful change begins to occur.


So dear reader, I shall finish with two questions for you: What is it you want to see that would make our world better?

And what is it you are going to do about it?