Teacher’s Hating on Students: What Would You Say?

So I’m finding Teacher blogs totally fascinating because, for the first time, I’m hearing teachers voice the kinds of things they’d never say to students and not even utter inside their own school for fear of being labelled by management and spat out…

Let’s take, for example, this reply to a UK teacher’s post about curiosity

“As a teacher, I increasingly encounter INcurious children: even in the pre-school years – kids who do NOT respond, emotionally or otherwise, to “Have you ever wondered… ?” or any such stimulus. The answer [if any] will be one of two things: 

/1/ “No”: the sort of “No” whose dull delivery makes clear that the speaker does not even imagine, or even wish to be able to imagine, wanting to know anything that s/he doesn’t know or believe already or

/2/ worse, a reply that’s a sheer guess EXPRESSED IN TERMS OF BORED CERTAINTY (example: “Oh, kittens purr because there’s a battery inside.”) – once the boredly certain guesser delivers his/her pronouncement, s/he REFUSES to be tempted to seek further. (“I SAID they purr because there’s a battery inside, so that’s why they do it!”) 

kittens

Suggestions, please?”

What shall we do with this guys? We can always push the hate, anger and frustration right back! It’ll escalate things but, seen as the whole situation is pretty daft anyway, what’s harm’s more nonsense gonna do?

Or we can pick up advice from improv and say; OK, I acknowledge your truth and I’ll add this…
Here’s my attempt at some student to teacher improv via audio. How did I do?

 

For a limited time (until I improve this page) here’s the audio transcript…


There was a comment that really inspired me. It was actually a question from a teacher that I thought was so honest and real that I really wanted to share my thoughts on this. When I read this I thought first about the first part of the comment; I increasingly encounter incurious children. First I wanted to address that by reminding ourselves that the way our mind works is that what we look for, we tend to see and we can make patterns out of random. So if you happen to, in the last couple of days, have worked closely with a couple of kids who maybe frustrate you a little bit because you can’t see that they’re curious enough for what you think is the amount of curiosity they really ought to have… then you might well think, and I completely understand it, that children are becoming increasingly incurious. 

I want to flag this because, if you get comfortable with this belief then, in the future, unconsciously you may be interacting with kids in a way that leads you to see this more. The words you use, or the tone you use, may be drawn from an expectation that they are less curious than the kids that you saw a few years ago. So I want to maybe encourage you to let go of this belief that is perhaps forming. Then, let’s look at the actual problem we’re trying to solve. I think I can split this up three ways; the first problem that we maybe think we have is that kids aren’t curious, or they’re not curious enough, or they’re becoming less curious if we could measure it on a scale… they’re becoming less curious than the generation before.

If that’s the problem, then I kind of want to just say; relax. If we ever can measure curiosity and, if our curiosity is becoming less with each generation then I don’t think there’s anything we can do about that, or that a teacher can do about that, so… chill. If that’s the problem, then chill, but I think it’s more likely to be one f the other two; The kids aren’t showing you their curiosity, or that you can’t see their curiosity. They seem similar, but they’re subtly different. 

If the problem is that the kids aren’t showing you their curiosity then perhaps, if we’re assuming that they have curiosity, you could imagine that they’re showing other people their curiosity; their parents or siblings. Perhaps they’re more comfortable sharing their curiosity with people who aren’t in a teacher position. I don’t know, but that might be the case. Then the question is; do you have a problem with the fact that they don’t show YOU their curiosity? If you would like to see their curiosity then, I’d say that, curiosity is one of those things that comes out when people are really relaxed. Imagine it being quite timid. The other side of curiosity is that, when it’s genuine curiosity, it can feel quite personal. You’re less likely to share it with someone who you don’t feel has shared with you.

So maybe there’s a couple of things to explore there. First to think about the environment; the words, the tone, is it really relaxed? Do they really feel like they’re not being judged on how curious they’re appearing? And then you’ve got more chance of seeing their real curiosity. The other side of it is; how much are you showing your genuine curiosity? How much are you sharing yourself so that they feel like it’s not a one-way share? 

The first problem we were looking at is; are the kids curious? If we can just assume that they are, then we move onto the second problem; the kids aren’t showing you their curiosity and we’ve just talked about what we can do to encourage that. What if they are showing you their curiosity? What if they are? But it’s actually the third problem; you can’t see their curiosity? Here I’d maybe ask you to reflect on what you believe curiosity looks like and think about the idea that, what you feel is curiosity and the way you express your curiosity may well be different to the way another person feels and expresses curiosity. So, it may be an exercise in really opening up your concept of what curiosity could look like and seeing if you can match curiosity to actions, rather than actions to your idea of what curiosity is. I wonder if that will give you some more dialogue, more connection, with the students that I feel like is missing. Give that one a try! :D


This is one of my play-projects to learn more about the field I care about.