Teachers are burning out here, there and everywhere. Dropping like flies they are.
The job makes so many demands on us that it isn’t unusual to burn out a number of times in a career – if you are lucky enough to make it that far.
With so many well-meaning well-being tips to follow it can be hard knowing what to do for the best. Do you combine colonic irrigation with a 6 week intense course of mindfulness or opt for a Line of Duty binge session with the curtains drawn and a week’s supply of chocolate?
Well, according to Dr Leighanne Higgins at Lancaster University Management School and Dr Kathy Hamilton at Strathcylde Business School, then burned out staff should be sent on a pilgrimage. Okay, their research relates to companies but the findings could be applied to teaching.
Sending folks off on a pilgrimage-style trip may offer some staff an opportunity to emotionally retreat, regroup, reboot and to come back fighting.
Higgins and Hamilton found that visiting Lourdes had therapeutic benefits for the people they interviewed and more so for men (because they are more straitjacketed). They have studied therapeutic servicescapes and have looked into how emotions are socially and geographically orchestrated and in terms of a pilgrimage, this is powerfully done.
Cultivating emotions makes sense because it promotes well-being so teachers should be encouraged to consume a ‘place’ as a way of helping cope and manage stress, anxiety and mental health.
Where you go needs to be given some careful consideration. Some teachers might decide to visit the home of Sir Ken Robinson in Los Angeles and turn this into a creative pilgrimage. Others might decide to forget any connection with education and go off piste and do the Santiago de Compostela or Mont Saint Michel.
Do teachers need emotional tourism? You bet they do but this doesn’t have to be to a religious landscape. Just a bloody good holiday will do the trick and it normally does.
If every burnt-out teacher was told to go on a pilgrimage to get their head back in shape, some schools would have to close down.