The Wearing of the Hats
Hello there! Nice to meet you.
Is your life as busy as mine? During a normal day I can take on all the roles we encounter in our lives as teachers. I may be the student who struggles with what she perceives as unfair demands of a teacher. Or who simply would like to finish her very interesting book instead of paying attention to class, thank you very much.
I am, every day, the parent who deals with a school system that is often in many ways inadequate, especially when dealing with a child who is not quite neurotypical.
And after all, I am a teacher who teaches foreign languages to adults and sometimes children, too.
I change my hats, quickly, between doors, on the run, while having a quick coffee and a sandwich. What changes as well is the perspective.
As a teacher, the student who does not pay attention is a nuisance at least. And parents who think that their own child is such a special snowflake? Don’t you know them, too? And those parents who know much better what and how to teach than you do? Really, what do they think? Did they study umpteen years in college?
The thing is, I don’t only change perspective, I also lose perspective. It is so easy to be all teacher in the evening, to forget how I just felt that very morning in college when my brain was filled with all those other important things that go on in my life (children! household! teaching in the evening!). It is easy to forget how helpless I felt when confronted with a seemingly all powerful school system and an incompetent headteacher who were failing my child.
In the daily business it is difficult to stop for a moment and put ourselves in the place of the other. It may be easier to think back to the times when we were students ourselves, to the day when our life was just more important that our homework. It may be more difficult to put ourselves in the place of the parent if we don’t have children or have one of these uncomplicated ones who walk to school with smiling eyes and come back home and can’t wait to do their homework.
That’s something college can’t teach us. No matter how long we study, what we study. It’s a skill we have to cultivate ourselves. To step back for a moment and to ask ourselves “how would I feel right now?”
That still doesn’t mean we’re just going to ignore the student who didn’t do their homework, but it also helps us to be more relaxed about things ourselves.
After all, we’re not fundamentally different creatures who inhabit the ecosystem school in a constant struggle for food and space. After all, we may just be wearing a different hat right now.
Featured image: Belfast Christmas Continental Market, by Ardfern, 2010, Wikimedia Commons