Humanity must be our touchstone

6th September 2013 at 01:00

There is a truth about teachers and students so obvious that it is easily overlooked in the hustle and bustle of school life: we are all human beings.

I have recently finished working in a unit based on this sense of shared humanity. As I told the students when they first arrived, "Some of us here are teachers; some of us are students; some counsellors; some cleaners. But we are all human. We will have good days and bad days and I, for one, will no doubt say or do the wrong thing at some point. If I do, I will say sorry and try to put things right and I ask you to do the same. It's as simple as that."

As staff, we tried to behave with the same courtesy and respect that we would like to be treated with ourselves. Who enjoys being told off as soon as they enter a room? Most people prefer a polite request to having orders barked at them - good manners, such as saying "please", "thank you" and "sorry", can only be taught by example. We shared everything from birthday celebrations to the same chairs and tables. The effect was to create a place where students got a lot of work done in a relaxed way. We had our moments, but visitors and inspectors remarked on the calm, peaceful and warm atmosphere in which students worked purposefully and well.

Basing our education on shared humanity gives us all a way forward.

Simenon Honore, Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

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