Educating a child is the least definable professional endeavour one can pursue. Arguably.
There is simply no guidebook for the proper facilitation of each individual seated in front of you at the beginning of a school day.
Sure, there are enough models for best practice to fill every bakery in South Australia, yet none can accurately serve to offer explicit instruction to reach every individual in a cluster.
We can research learning disorders, behavioural disorders, psychological manifestos, delve deep into our psyches and memories but, in the end, there can be no hard and fast rule when dealing with children. For every argument you can make for one course of action or decision, there can often be an equally compelling counter-argument.
Part of the difficulty of the profession is that the subjects are removed from the content. Other industries may identify variables and implement strategies to eliminate their detrimental influence on a final outcome. Think engineering. Architecture. Photography. Cooking. Obstacles can be identified and removed. You can’t do that with a child.
Obviously, you can implement strategies to aid a child ease into an educational setting from which to get the best out of themselves, but it can’t be guaranteed and it can’t be one-size-fits-all. Just as you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it enjoy the view – some children can be facilitated to the nth degree by their teacher, but they won’t necessarily benefit from the effort.
Each child, you see, is exquisitely unique. Frustratingly so, at times, but absolutely unique nonetheless.
Each child brings with them their own experiences, their own interests, hopes, dislikes, worries, their own sets of social norms. Their own self doubts.
Even by implementing the best educational practice techniques, you simply cannot ensure that you are supporting the whole child the whole of the time.
When I consider this, I think it helpful to consider the way in which we see the world. I only see out of one eye and I occasionally will block its sight so I see out of the other eye. The view is essentially the same (though far more blurry) but the angle is slightly different.
No matter your teaching style or technique, each pair of eyes and ears in front of you will have a slightly different view to what you are saying and your words will enter their ears subtly different to how they exited your minds.
Like a beautiful sunrise, I don’t particularly want to find out the answers to any of the above. I simply wish to marvel at the uniqueness of the human race and to enjoy those moments of clear connection that arise frequently from dealing with children – even if that connection is not necessarily shared both ways!
As much as I try and plan an engaging, interesting approach to the teaching of every concept I teach, I can’t guarantee that the 5 year old in front of me will be more interested in it than his dissappointment at what’s in his lunchbox or his counting down the uncertain minutes to play time.
That’s the frustration of teaching children. That’s the joy.
I am not a man of cravings.
That is to say – I am ostensibly a life-form who doesn’t want for too much and have been, broadly speaking, been blessed with coherent-enough thinking to make arrangements for things I desire which may take time to acquire.
To my detriment, this extends to my intake of food and liquid. Much easier to satisfy than my lust for travel, I have lived an adult life of eating what I want, when I want. Essentially, I’m a product of my time, devouring products of our time.
Consequently, it was to shock, doubt and (allegedly) horror that I announced my intentions to engage in 42 days of detoxification. 6 weeks of no wheat, gluten, dairy, processed food, sugary drinks or alcohol. Basically – 1008 hours with no fun and limited choice.
Wife included, I wasn’t expected to travel too far into the detox by many.
I suppose they didn’t account for (or know) of my gritty stubbornness. I’m no scientist – but I’m also aware that my chemical make up is somewhere in the realms of 6 parts flesh and bone to 1 part stubborn. That being the case, I can confide in you, the reader, that I am 14% stubborn.
Born from this has been my success, to date, of the completion of the detox. For 5 weeks I have successfully negotiated the many potential pitfalls that have arisen. I’ve remained a social creature, though less seen in public during the early hours. Importantly – I’ve stayed loyal to the cause.
Until this weekend: read – weakend.
My wife, loyal to the extreme and a wealth of information and recipes in all things detox instantly turned enemy. She delivered me into the welcoming palms of the most pub-friendly town in the most pub-friendly country. Ballarat.
Concrete is made up of 1 part cement, 2 parts sand to 3 parts cement.
Ballarat is made up of 1 part friendly locals, 2 parts beautiful architecture to 3 parts alcohol-dispensing establishment.
We were there under noble terms. A friend had entered into the Ballarat International Foto Biennale and we wanted to be there to support her on opening night.
After realising that approximately 30% of all Ballaratian buildings were, in fact, pubs – my blood pressure began to rise.
We parked our beloved vehicle 3 streets (6 pubs) from the gallery opening (the last of those pubs a sports bar with a screen for every booth!).
It doesn’t take an alcoholic to pick up when a venue is selling cheap booze. I became agitated.
Having not eaten in hours, I also grew hungry. Granted, that’s a pretty standard order of events for most people.
Afterwards, we ventured to a nearby pizzeria.
My heart sank. I was defeated. Valiant – but ultimately not good enough. Just like North Melbourne.
The aforementioned schedule meant I was beyond hungry. Not to mention tired and emotionally weakened. 1 week short of my goal – it was lost.
This was the exact establishment I was born to frequent. Wooden interior, dimly lit, woodfire pizza, friendly staff and locally brewed boutique beer.
Frustrated, exasperated and disheartened upon the realisation that the glorious menu in front of me contained only one suitable item, I yielded.
“It’s done,” I said to my wife beside me. She gave me a forgiving, knowing look.
Earlier, I had called for extra time from the waiter and had now succumbed to the understanding that I would have to face friends and work mates with the news that I had cracked near the finish. I had hoped to find clarity in the extra time, but none had come. My heart beat viciously in my chest to the point of distraction.
Surrendered to the ignominy of falling at the final hurdle I was thrown an expected lifeline.
A friend at the table handed me a drinks menu to peruse before cackling out the fact that I, of course, couldn’t have one. Revelling in her better position and, no doubt, sensing my defeated persona. She could smell an easy kill, a notch on the belt – Detox-Destroyer pulled the menu away from me.
The waiter returned. My mind made up.
“Would you like a drink, sir?”
“Yes please…I’ll have a water, thanks.”
Stubbornness won the day.
In my younger, more volatile days, there were many things I hate and could oft be heard referencing as my “most hated thing.” War. Oppression. Collingwood. Corporate injustice. Social and economic inequality. Nelly’s Band-Aid. Keep in mind, that’s a thoroughly in-exhaustive list.
Shamefully, I recall wearing them as something akin to a badge of honour. I would proudly stand opposed to things I hated. By extension, I was not something I hated and my teenage brain was spared (more or less) the indignity of hating itself.
Ostensibly, this appears standard practice for the self-indulgent juvenile.
The hatred attached to aforementioned issues began to rescind as the years went by, falling lightly off of me like leaves off a tree.
Inertia and the need to adjust (read: conform) to adult life allowed me the opportunity to regard them as mild annoyances. Problems for other people, if you will. Things to thumb a nose at whilst seated at the stool of one of any number of gentrified locations over a boutique beer and moderately overpriced counter meal.
Unbeknownst to this author, said meals and beverages accumulated unquanitifiable amounts of toxins within my body. This year, to date, these toxins have contributed to my contracting of gastro (twice), the flu, numerous colds and, wait for it, shingles!
Each additional toxin seemed to pair with it a brick to add to my wall of apathy. Previous passions, interests and beliefs were hid behind a routine of over-indulgence of alcohol, terrible food and yuppy life.
As far as hypotheticals go, my recently-engaged detox (which I have previously written about in this post) surreptitiously disguised itself as a wrecking ball and hurried posthaste to this wall in my psyche.
Consequently, precious embers have been relit.
For one, I have been involved in several rallies of late against the government’s terrible recent (ha) policies (though nothing will likely remove my aversion to mindless, repetitive, unimaginative chanting).
You’ll be glad to know, also, that my hatred has returned. Unimpeded by the spreading of the hate, it has returned with sole focus upon one object. One target only in its sights.
This hatred, ironically, rests solely in the direction of a crucial element of my detox – a green powder which, once dissolved into water, must be twice-daily ingested into my body. The taste. The texture. The smell. The rage! To taste it is to feel the icy cold fingers of your worst nightmare ripping out your insides.
It is a necessary part of my detox.
It is the single worst thing in the world…