As the last public holiday in January creeps up on us and we wonder where on earth did the month go, spare a thought to those teachers you know. Just as all the parents out there are excitedly packing the book list and celebrating the fact that they have “survived” 6 weeks with their children, these educators are nervously checking their class lists and wondering how they will make it through til Easter. Actually, I feel very fortunate to be in profession that affords me such great holidays – I work for them through – as well as being something I am so fiercely passionate about. But still, every teacher gets a sense of dread at this time of year. Will my classes be alright? In the context of Secondary School, I always try to get people to imagine putting 30 people together in a closed room, who don’t want to be there and, at times, can barely tolerate each other, then get them to be productive. You wouldn’t find it in any other work environment. Yes, it is a challenge, but it’s one truly dedicated teachers take up with gusto.
But I can also imagine the nervousness with which any parent send their beloved ones off to school, whether it be into pre-primary, the first year of Secondary School or the first year of external examinations. The pressure, due to an often too demanding curriculum along with the (anti) social structures brought on by mixing groups of people with a growing sense of self and incomplete brain development, is enormous. We must never underestimate how tough going to, and being at, school is for these young people. It isn’t a normal social construct. It calls for such discipline of mind and emotions, and then we add to this the duress to do well consistently. And not just well, but also better than others. When we think about it in these terms, we might be less demanding and more considerate of our young people within the education system.