Friday, 13 July 2012

What Teaching Has Taught Me About Kids

Last week I wrote about the hard work and dedication of the many teachers I've known and worked with over the past ten years.

As I approach my final week as a class-room teaching, I'm thinking back on what I've learned about students. I've only worked as a qualified teacher in one school--a comprehensive in a rural and suburban community--so my observations may not ring true for every teacher. In fact, I trained in a school where there were many more "challenging" students. If I'd spent ten years there, I'm sure my attitudes would have been more Trunchbullian by now.

Anyway, here are a just few of my observations:

1) Children are not the enemy.

It's often easy and tempting (not to mention satisfying) to see teenagers as a potential massed army of droogs, but it's simply not a fair picture. Most of the moral panics involving youth crime are either a repeat of an earlier panic (teddy boys=hoodies) or involve heinous acts that are extremely rare.

2) Children are not all bad.

OK, maybe kids are irritating, noisy, confused, troubled, troubling, selfish, irresponsible, rude, highly-strung, aggressive, challenging, defiant, nasty, disobedient, arrogant, lazy, or annoying....

...but they're not all bad. Really.

3) Young people need adult support and approval as much, if not more, than they ever did.

In a school situation this is hard at times, especally as kids often act out their frustrations and insecurities in ways that are challenging (that word again) and disruptive. Frankly, I'm operating in "do as I say, not as I do" mode now. I've always found it hard to see beyond bad behaviour and find somethig positive in every kid.

But something good is always there.

 4) In short, what teaching has taught me about kids is that young people are kind, co-operative, hard-working, funny, caring, intelligent, energetic, hopeful, entertaining compassionate, inquisitive, easy-going, supportive, talented, charming and above all, good.


Most of them, anyway...

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