Having been a member of the teaching(personally I prefer to feel I was an educator rather than a teacher… because in my mind, there IS a difference!) profession for much of my working life; I now watch with great interest, the comings and goings of parents/guardians and children, as they go to, and come from the well reputed little primary school across from where I live. I tend to notice mainly the body-language and general attitudes of them all(inc. parents!), from when they begin at age 4+ until they leave for secondary school.
And then there are the buses which bring the secondary-school aged children home to our village, whose bearing and behaviour I have also studied over periods of time.
Even the photos amongst this article, will probably evoke a number of memories, reactions and judgements from you, as you read this, whether you are currently part of the school run or not.
Characteristics which I notice in particular (and in which I notice changes, as the number of years of attending school, increases), are the following…….
Confidence; joyfulness; playfulness; aggression; quarrelsome-ness; tolerance; intolerance; agreeableness; obedience; rejection; sympathy; empathy; competitiveness; derision; bullying; friendships; associations; dissociations; compassion; exclusion; victimisation; jealousy; etc…..
The pattern is very similar to that which I noticed in my own children, as they went through the ‘process’, and which I also noticed in the pupils during my teaching years. And… which are still so clear in my mind(you’ll probably agree) from my own school years!!.. feelings that still linger, and hopefully enable teachers and parents to feel sympathy, empathy and tolerance when they experience these emotions being manifested in their own children/students.
Whether you are a parent or not, whether you have worked in schools or not… we have all surely noticed; both from our own personal experience as pupils, and from our involvements and observations of children of various ages in various situations and environments; that there is a striking difference(not ALL bad!) between the bearing, behaviour, and interaction, of youngsters before they enter the ‘system’ and after they have become part of it!
Although many good things can emanate from the school process, the youngsters certainly lose their innocence, and often, so unfortunately, they also lose their tolerance, their self-esteem, their empathy and sympathy, in the process of trying to survive without being victimised for things such as their success, and often because of jealousy or insecurity in others(which in itself needs to be approached with understanding)……
And… How many youngsters are being allowed to resort to this……..
…and eventually this!!…...as a means, not just of communication or of information collection, but primarily one of keeping them occupied?!
It’s here that I want to stress that everyone involved with youngsters needs to be intently aware of these changes and the very delicate balance that exists between joy and misery during these formative years. Misery can then manifest itself in so many ways such as anti-social behaviour that is all too often judged at face value as….. “..a bad kid…” ; “..needs to be punished..” etc…
Education MUST be more than the mere soul-less imparting of facts by which youngsters are then judged on their regurgitation ability!!
Education MUST involve learning about relationships, tolerance, sympathy(not too sentimental), and at the very least an effort at understanding the roots of their childhood miseries that lead to behaviour that is so often just punished without question!!……
….OR IT IS WORTHLESS!!!!