The kindness of teachers.

‘…if you’re going to be an authority figure, you’ve got to live with the dehumanizing consequences.’

This is what the young high-school basketball star bounces back to his coach, as he refuses to grant his coach’s wish for a nickname, (Paul Beatty: The White Boy Shuffle).  As I read this, I was reminded of one of the lessons that I picked-up from the mindfulness training that took place over the course of three halves last year: boys will usually see us in a role, and the associations that come with being a teacher do not always allow us to share the depth of care that we might like to.  As my own children have grown-up, they have emphasised to me how important it is that teachers are kind.  I begin each academic year recalibrating my intention to be kinder.  The mindfulness training helped me to see with more consistency, that that means creating a safer space for them to feel able to talk in, a space in which they know they are being listened to.  I also learnt the importance of being completely present, paying attention to the narratives of boys’ lives, and perhaps helping them to move forwards rather than dwell too much on the past.  As a teacher though, I am also compelled to make judgements about the boys, and they know we are judging them.  The mindfulness training suggests that judging people and being judged, do not help to achieve a sense of equanimity.  My mindfulness training has enabled me to remind myself to not be so critical about my own failings.  My capacity and ability to observe, to become more composed, and to be more aware of my experiences has grown.

by Vaughan Clarke

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