Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Who Are Children?


Children have human rights.
(If you don't believe me that children have them, Google it. I dare you.)

They have thoughts, opinions, ideas, and they love to express these.

My background is teaching and human services. I feel I would be lost without my human services side of understanding.

The other day I heard a story from a student teacher whose supervising teacher yelled at a child for not having a book.... and also yelled at a child saying "if you didn't miss school so much then you wouldn't have missed out on having this template and would be able to find it!"

Fair arguments?

Perhaps... but...

This child was 6 years old.

I really hope your mouth is dropped and you let out a huge "GASP" of shock.
If you did not, consider these points:

- The child is 6. six. They are only just learning how to take care of themselves. There is a huge range of their abilities and not all 6 year olds are the same. Some can make their bed, some still wet themselves, some can count to 20, some don't know what their last name is, let alone how to write their first name.

- Is this the second, third, etc. time that this has happened? Do you see or talk to the child's parents/carers? Have you thought that they may not have the book because their family cannot afford it. Or the child's home life could be filled with domestic violence, and no offence dude, but a school book is not on their priority list in that situation. 

- Are there bullies? Does the child's things seem to go missing with no explanation and a look of fear on their face. 

- Yes. Sometimes the dog DID eat their homework. It's a stretch, but even I had a cat that would put numerous puncture holes into any piece of paper I was holding. Because apparently that was my cat's favourite game to play. 

- Is the child sick a lot? Are they always in hospital? Is there a more serious condition to their health, or are they poorly taken care of due to lack of income, lack of support, lack of a caretaker to give them adequate nutrition. Maybe this is why they were away for that extremely important lesson where the others got this template. I know, they are totally going to fail school and fail at life but hey, what are you gonna do. [sarcasm]

I'm sure there could be more scenarios to this situation. And I could have demonstrated way more annoyance and sarcasm...

I thought everyone learnt to put yourself in someone elses shoes. This for me is common sense. I have however realised over the years when I've been teaching children this, that even adults don't have this concept. Is it their fault? Probably not. Because obviously this skill is missing from the lack of someone showing them. We only know what we have seen. 

What are your thoughts on this?

Was the teacher too harsh on the 6 year old? 

I don't think it was ok to talk or deal with the student that way. There should have been more time to explore, or even just take a second to ask, "Why?". I of all people know how teaching can be a stressful job, but in those moments of frustration you should know better than to snap. You are an adult. You know you can give yourself that one deep breath and have a quick think of how to deal with that situation, and it is never to yell and make a child feel awful about themselves and be embarrassed in front of the whole class.

A teacher should be someone they feel comfortable and confident to talk to, share problems with, seek advice, and look to for guidance. You are a role model. There is a teacher-student relationship. And being at school may be the only positive thing in that child's life right now. 

Think twice before treating children however you feel. If you wouldn't talk to or treat a fellow adult a certain way, then you should not do that to a child. My motto with the children I take care of is basically I will treat you how you treat me, which is also reversed. For example, smacking. When I see a parent hit their child, and often it is for the child hitting their sibling, I laugh and wonder how they don't get it. When a child speaks to me rudely or ignores me I pull them up on it by saying "Please don't be rude to me, I listen to you all the time, so that is not fair if you don't listen to me." And guess what? It works every time. 

Stand up for children's rights. 

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