She looks at me with big, doe eyes,
Bright and wet attempt at tears.
And yet I push her on with force or love,
Whichever you may want to argue for.
And when she’s done I see her smile,
A shade of pride, flickering through her skin.
But that won’t go down well at home, I’m told
By the teacher scratching at her nose.
Mum will hate that she was made to read,
A ghastly attack on her rights, or something,
I’d switched off though, glad I’d made her speak.
I made a girl who was really resistant to reading, read a whole two pages of a book out to class. She kept saying no, but she was half laughing and I was convinced that she could do it if she just put her mind to it.
Eventually, she read the bloody thing and I was so pleased with her. We bargained with her for one page and she chose to read two which was what I was hoping for.
But once the students had gone the teacher that had observed me said that we’d probably be getting an email from this girl’s mum saying that we had forced her to read and it was bad for her mental health.
This teacher was really supportive of me and said that the girl had just proved herself wrong. Besides, I’m the student so if we get any flack, she has to deal with it! All of this is fine, but I am left wondering what kind of damage this mum is doing to her kid?
The girl read really well and WANTED to carry on. Why would any parent try to tell their parent that it a bad thing? Sure, she took a bit of cajoling and she probably felt a fair bit of stress, but now is the time to be experimenting with these stressful situations.
I look at what we are creating and it makes me want to cry. I told this girl that she would thank me one day and I really hope that she does look back on my ‘tough love’ and remember it when she’s older and giving a presentation in a board room.
I was brought up, wrapped up in cotton wool by my mother and it caused two decades of anxiety, depression and alcoholism as I tried to deal with the real world. I just hope that as a teacher I can give some kids that are also being cocooned in cotton wool, the chance to spread their wings and fly away before it’s too late.