The love that allows learning to blossom

23rd October 1998 at 01:00
Parents can complain about bullying, the curriculum, the leaks in the classroom roof. But what if a child doesn't like the teacher? Or worse, if a teacher doesn't like the child? Hardly any attention has been paid to relationships within the classroom.

Of course, as a teacher you make no difference between dear, sensible Zara, who is so helpful and bright, and restless Daniel, who spends most of his time either in punch-ups or training for them. But having been a teacher myself, I know that is hard to do. You may not want to admit it, but there are some children you just don't like. One year things got so bad, I used to go to the bottle bank to vent my frustrations: Lee - Smash! Emma - Smash! David - Smash!

Every now and then my children have hit the jackpot, with a teacher who seemed to enjoy teaching them. She liked them. She was interested in their lives, sympathetic to their problems. And I have watched them blossom in that attention. Conversely, I've seen some children who dread going to school, because they're sure the teacher doesn't like them. Listen to children towards the end of the school year. They will have very definite ideas about who they want to be their teacher next year.

When I was a teacher I might have argued that I had enough to cope with without worrying about my relationships with the children. As a parent, I see things differently. Well-liked teachers may not get the best test results or keep the most orderly classrooms. But they give children more important things - confidence and a love of learning.

Caroline Millar is a parent and former teacher

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