We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, we’re not great at everything.
The one place, and possibly the worse place, that this is exposed is at school. We’re piled in to classrooms, forced to learn things in the same way as everyone else and if you can’t learn in the same way or at same rate you’re thrown in to a lower set class where the work is frighteningly easy and pointless and your fellow class mates are disruptive and very likely to set things on fire.
At least that’s how it was when I was at school. There are huge differences between having learning difficulties where it applies across the board, people who belong in prison and people who just find one thing harder than another. I don’t have learning difficulties, I was just terrible at maths.
I remember spending an entire term learning how many ways you could re-arrange the name Emma. I can tell you that has served me so well in adult life…
I didn’t realise I was good at Maths until I returned to education at 25. The damage was already done by then though unfortunately and Maths still fills me with dread but I know I am capable of doing it when I need to.
At school I was good at; Science, English, Drama, Geography and History.
I tolerated technology and I despised Maths.
I blame one teacher in particular for my hatred of maths. I can do simple sums when I have to, it just takes me a while as I’m not overly confident with it, which was made worse by this particular incident.
Our teacher decided in the last 10 minutes before home time that we would be given some random questions, nothing unusual, this type of thing is done all the time. The questions were general knowledge, spellings and maths.
The teacher asked me to add or subtract two numbers, I don’t remember which. I didn’t know the answer and it was obvious I wan’t getting it anytime soon and so she moved on to the next person.
When I had eventually done the problem I gave her the answer and she just laughed at me and made some derogatory remark about how long it had taken which in turn made everyone in the classroom laugh at me.
This was obviously a pivotal moment for me otherwise I wouldn’t remember it 20 years later. I’m sure she didn’t mean to cause me a lifetime phobia of maths but she did and it should have been obvious that in a class of 8 – 9 year olds if you take the piss out of a student the whole class will pick up on it.
I’m sure 99% of those students don’t remember this but that’s not the point, I remember it and unfortunately it probably happens every day in many schools across the country. Teachers effectively bullying children because they aren’t good at something.
More recently something similar has happened to my son. From an academic view we’re fairly opposite. He loves technology and he’s good at maths and PE. His handwriting is something to be improved but it’s not the end of the world. He’s never been interested in literature but his strengths lie elsewhere.
He likes maths, he ‘gets it’ in a way I never will, he chose Finance, Resitant Materials and Geography as his options and he has, so far, been enjoying the lessons. That was up until he realsied one of his teachers likes to pick on students who can’t jot down notes as quickly as everyone else. This teacher puts notes up on the projector and the class has to copy them down in order to learn the information for that days lesson. If they haven’t written them down in the time that she deems necessary, it’s tough. My son has therefore missed important information relevant to one of his GCSE lessons and cannot complete homework because he doesn’t have the lessons notes.
Now I’m not a teacher and I’ve never had to teach children or write a lesson plan so I don’t know how it works but I’m sure it’s not easy. However I remember taking classes where we had to write down reams and reams of notes but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what they were about, I just remember it being really dull.
Writing notes down quickly is a good skill to have in certain situations but copying streams of writing from a board is not teaching anyone anything, if you’re concentrating on getting those notes written down before they get taken away then you’re not processing the information.
He has mentioned to the teacher that he hadn’t managed to copy down everything and he’s not the only one with this issue, they were met with a response that was somewhere along the lines of ‘write quicker then’.
I have told my son to speak with this teacher, explain to her that he can’t simply ‘write quicker’ and if this is the only way to conduct lessons then can he not have a print out of the notes in order to read them at his own pace and complete the homework?
How would she feel if one of her weaknesses were to be exposed to the classroom? I’m sure that would be highly embarrassing for a supposed adult, so imagine how it must feel to a teenager who has enough to worry about as it is.
I am unsure of the outcome at this stage as this is pretty much happening in real time, I am just obviously very angry about it and thought I would vent…
This kind of behaviour from teachers is disgusting, surely they can see how this has a negative impact on children. It’s hard enough as it is to get them engaged or excited about school so to then belittle them for having weaknesses really does not help.
Don’t ever let anyone make you think you’re not good enough.
Follow your dreams right now! Don’t wait until tomorrow,
next week, next year. Stop planning, start doing 🙂
Be happy and keep smiling 🙂