I want to make it clear that I love teachers. I’m still in contact with a few of my own teachers from 30 years ago, because they fundamentally shaped who I am.
I love my child’s teachers, and respect them as a vital part of my child’s life. I know most teachers do so much more than they are required to, and care more about their students than they need to.
But – and this is something I’ve felt for a while – if I were a teacher myself, there’s one thing I would do differently.
I took my child to see movie The House With the Clock In Its Walls on the weekend. It was fun, but one sad scene really stuck in my mind. The hero of the story is a 10-year-old child named Lewis, and one day at school, he’s the last one to be selected for a team in his sports lesson.
The brutal rejection doesn’t happen quickly – the scene plays out excruciatingly slowly. The most apparently gifted sportsmen are selected as captains, and then they, one by one, select a player for their team. The other students stand there, waiting to be picked – hoping they won’t be last.
Lewis is last, and the neither of the captains are happy about having him play with them.
Sure, the movie is set in 1955 – but it’s a scene everyone watching the movie is familiar with, because it’s happened to them – even the small kids. It’s almost a universal experience.
It happened to me in the late 1980s. And it happened to my 10-year-old in 2017.
Apart from the heartbreaking humiliation of children, there’s another thing each scenario has in common: a teacher sets up the situation for this to happen. Because that’s the way it’s always been done.
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Yes, some may argue it’s “resilience” building, and perhaps even reflective of real life. Maybe. I’m not convinced of that.
What I do know is that each time it happens, a child is embarrassed in front of its classmates – and that’s something no one forgets.
Some deal with it like I did – water off a duck’s back. Your loss, mates.
Some, like my child, who used to be at a very sports-orientated school, accept that they are ‘just not good enough’, and they deserve to be last.