> Mrs. O'Neill's Blog: School - Passing this way one time only

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

School - Passing this way one time only

Every now and again I am struck by the enormity of what we are doing as teachers.

Recently I read a story in class, where a man goes to prison for stealing. His son is unwittingly responsible for drawing his father to the attention of the police. This leads to a conviction and imprisonment. My class had a lively debate on the subject of how much the boy was to blame.

In the course of our discussion, I had to quickly discourage pupils from talking about actual situations. At a certain point I became aware that I had, in my class; children whose parents were involved in the judicial system at several levels: policing, legal or social work; children who had relatives who had been in prison; children who had seen neighbours cope with family members being in prison; children who had never thought about the impact of prison on a family. The views of these different groups were on show, and being articulated in a lively, and surprisingly compassionate debate.

At what other time would people of these varied viewpoints be put together in such a setting? When again in their lives will these pupils be in quite the same situation? When else will they spend regular time getting the opportunity to discuss these issues within the safety of this unique environment? When will they ever have so much in common again?

It’s an enormous responsibility. It’s true that we are not the only source of direction for these pupils. It’s true, that the families they come from will impact them on a deeper level. But it is a responsibility nevertheless.

We’ve got the world in our classrooms. Are we up to it?


Kim Pericles said...

YES we are up to it! As you say where else could these discussions occur? At my school we have students who speak 73 different languages, not taking into account religious and economic differences and experiences. We are indeed priveleged to be not just a part of the conversation, but instigators of the conversation.

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

Thanks for commenting Kim. Your school sounds amazing...

Hope to hear from you again!

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