A Favourite Teacher

A Favourite Teacher

Jul 14, 2014 | Families Blog | 0 comments

Have you ever seen the show, “World’s Strictest Parents?” I usually change the channel, and dismiss it as being “a bit over the top”. But today I watched the whole thing. Two teenagers from England who were causing their parents some grief, were shipped off to Ghana, and for one week became part of a local family, sharing the chores, doing their homework, and experiencing a very different way of life. The parents had high expectations, and would settle for nothing less.

Yes, maybe it was a bit over the top. Maybe they did exaggerate for TV, but what was fascinating was the very genuine change of attitude in these two kids. Even though this family had strict rules, their kids knew that they were loved. They had close relationships, they talked things through. They felt listened to. At one heart-wrenching moment, the girl who had been a bit wild back home, broke down and shared with the Ghanaian mum that she wished she could talk to her own mum the same way she felt she could in this home.

And a fascinating change happened… as the relationships got closer between children and parents, so their behaviour improved. As the young people felt more connected and more valued and “seen” by the adults, so their need to act up seemed to decrease. Yes this family had high expectations, and punishments were in place for not coming up to those. But it wasn’t the punishments that made the difference, it was the relationships.

The more I watch families, the more I see this correlation playing out. Clear firm boundaries and limits, together with warm loving relationships. Not one or the other, but both.

This week on TV there has been a discussion about “bringing back the cane” in schools.

People are wondering if this is where we went wrong. We no longer allow such severe punishments for misbehaviour.

I wonder how it worked for you at school? Which teacher did you respect the most?

Who was it that got the best behaviour, attitude and the work habits from you? Was it the teacher you were most afraid of? The one with the worst punishments? Or, like me, was it the one who really saw you, who seemed to understand you, who appreciated your effort, knew your strengths, saw your potential, and encouraged you to become the best you could be?

I’ll always remember my son talking about his maths teacher. He said, “ He sees my potential, that’s all he sees.”

Maybe it is like the Ghanaian family…. When children are seen and valued, they want to do better.

I doubt whether bringing back the cane will solve our behaviour issues in schools. Yes, our kids want and need boundaries. They feel secure when expectations are clear, and when they know what is ok and what is not ok.

But with that they need adults who care… who will stop and wonder why they aren’t being the best they can be… who will listen to them, laugh with them, enjoy their company, and remind them that they have a unique contribution to make to the world.