Shout about what makes you happy, sad or mad ... Where is the respect?

9th January 2009 at 00:00

It amazes me that as teachers we value education so highly yet some of the most important parts of it are not taught. Where in the national curriculum, or in teacher training institutions, are issues such as people skills, respect, self-esteem, confidence and value broken down into specific targets and challenges to be met?

Surely without these skills children cannot possibly be the well-rounded individuals we aim to deliver. How broad and balanced is a curriculum where Year 5 pupils can point out adjectival clauses but lack the confidence to look another human being in the eye when they hold a conversation? OK, in an ideal world children would learn these social skills from their parents - but we don't live in an ideal world.

In a period of fly-on-the-wall programmes, we see and hear a nine-year-old boy telling his mother to: "Fuck off, stick it where the sun don't shine. Bitch."

The mother admits that she has no self-esteem. Perhaps her son would benefit more at school from learning about respect rather than the difference between similes and metaphors.

It isn't a particularly hard lesson to teach. If you want young people to respect you, respect yourself. Appreciate your worth and your value. Yes, parents need to learn this to stop their children walking all over them and treating them like dirt. But as teachers it should not be beyond our capabilities to teach every parent the importance of self-respect.

With education trends in philosophy and evaluation let's ask pupils about respect. What is it? Who has it? Do we respect ourselves? Why? Why not? We need to get this into the primary curriculum. Until it is, we should teach that respect is not static. It can change. We need to earn respect back for ourselves as a profession, as individuals and for our pupils.

Alyson Hall is a supply teacher and working for her National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH).

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