‘Call me old fashioned but no child of mine will be doing this at school’

When my son told me he called his teacher this, I told him off. But apparently, it’s just fine.

The day my son Jack, started Prep, it all went smashingly. And when and I say smashingly, I mean to say that he fell off the monkey bars (complete with school bag still attached to his back) and almost broke his elbow within the first 30 minutes of arriving. But you know, apart from that and the impromptu breakdance routine he broke into shortly after entering his new classroom, he had a pretty uneventful first day.

I remember picking him up that first afternoon, walking out of the school gates and asking him if he’d gotten sad at all, being away from his Mum. His answer? “I almost cried when you left, but then I just couldn’t be bothered.” Wow. A+ for Apathy son.

It's not just 'cool' teachers who are on first-name terms with their students.

We jumped in the car and I asked him how his day had gone. “Good.”  That was it and that was all I could get out of him for the first half an hour. After much prying he eventually told me that he’d drawn stuff in boxes, that Isabelle kept eating the glue stick and that Sue had made them eat their lunch inside the classroom because it was raining. That’s when we had the followings conversation:

Me: "Who is Sue?"

Jack: "My teacher."

Me: "Well, you really shouldn’t call her Sue, that’s impolite; you need to call her Miss Malvern."

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Jack: "That’s not her name. She’s Sue."

Me: "I doubt it."

Jack: "Can I have an ice block when we get home?"

Me: "Sure."

End of conversation.

So, I didn’t think too much more about this first-name basis business until I spoke to my other son later on that evening and asked him what his teacher’s name was. He answered “Di."

Say what now? Again, same story. So I checked with another parent. Sure enough, yep, children at this school had been told to address their teacher by their first names.

And no, this is not some touchy feely, hippy dippy school. It’s your run of the mill State School in suburbia. There is no agenda behind it; apparently it’s just what they do. It’s also something I’d not seen before and to be frank, I’m not sure I’m 100% comfortable with.

After asking around both social media and a friends, around 50% were cool with it. The other 50% were a little bit WTF, just like I was.

See, I was always a little in awe of my teachers. They had this untouchable mystique about them. They were never so familiar you would overstep the invisible boundaries and we certainly would never call them by their first names. In fact, I remember worshipping Mrs Adams, my Year 1 teacher. To have put my hand up and asked “Margaret, can I go to the toilet please” would have seen me eyeballed and swiftly sent up to the Principal’s office.

Now this is probably more of a case of me not moving with the times, but in much the same way as I still like for my children to address their new friend’s parents by Mr and Mrs until told otherwise, I want them to be polite, use their manners and be respectful. And I guess, to me,  the whole 'first name basis' thing for teachers seems to take the respect for someone who should have the authority, out of the equation.

Regardless, this is the way it is, like it or not and it is our job as parents to teach our children about respect in and out of the classroom at home.

The good news was however that he didn’t actually break his arm and he even promised Sue that his next breakdance routine would be by request only. Then we just had to keep a close eye on the budding romance between him and the glue eater.

What do you think about calling teachers by their first names? Is it something that you've encountered at your child’s school, too?

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