There’s no arguing with the notion that everyone is carrying the burden of their own struggles.
Some struggles, naturally, are harder than others. But everyone’s got something.
And teachers, with all their direct and intimate contact with young people, get remarkable insight into the hardships their students are carrying. They the first ones to see how issues at home bubble to the surface and trickle into a student’s demeanour, affecting their marks and altering their attitudes. They know it all because they’ve seen it all.
So you can imagine when teachers came together on a recent Reddit thread and shared the saddest secrets they discovered about their students, how many heart strings were tugged.
One user told the story of a student who wasn’t turning in any homework, and she decided to press him on why he wasn’t doing the work expected of him.
“When I asked him why he told me he lived in a hotel room with 12 other people, there wasn’t space, and it was too loud for him to focus,” the teacher wrote.
This story, however tragic, isn’t an anomaly within the thread, hardships surrounding living arrangements a common narrative.
“Another student was living in a four man tent with her mother and two dogs for months,” one teacher wrote. “They put it in a hole with chicken wire around it to keep the dogs from getting out. They ended up going through hurricane Irene like that.”
And it wasn’t just school teachers who came to the party and shared their most harrowing tales. The children of school teachers, shared some of their parents’ most tragic stories.
“At my mum’s school, one kid had some disease where he had really brittle bones,” the daughter of a teacher explained. “He was in a wheel chair she said it would break her heart because he would say that he just wanted to be a normal boy, to run and play like the other boys.”
Other tales told the stories of how hardship and tragedy is cyclical, and how it's often almost impossible for young people to escape the fate their family created.
"I once had 7th grade student who lost an older brother to a drive by," one teacher wrote. "After a few months I was told they had lost two other siblings the same way a few years earlier in elementary school.
"Three years down the line and his name was in the local newspaper for killing an 11th grade boy for his gang. That year I had the 11th grade boy's little sister in my class."
And then, of course, there are the stories of the children who simply work too hard outside of school, and have little energy by the time they walk through the school gates.
"The reason that my Grade 12 student was falling asleep during math class was because he was working 40 hours a week to pay his parents' bills. I saw his pay stub. He was a great kid too."
What's the saddest story you've come across in the school playground?