The title for this post comes from the 12th track in PJ Harvey’s album Uh Huh Her entitled The Darker Days of Me & Him. I decided to take some lines from the song to name this post because in one of my school assemblies I witnessed a situation that made many of my colleagues uncomfortable.
The student council was given the chance to address the staff and speak about the way they are experiencing their learning. While students’ attitude was quite positive, I noticed how some of my colleagues felt as if their efforts as teachers were not being valued or acknowledged. Yet, that was not the case. Students are very aware of the school philosophy, and while sometimes they might use it to point out certain teaching attitudes that are not completely in line with the philosophy, I believe that we, teachers, need to see the extent to which all of us need to embrace those beliefs.
Some of my colleagues were saddened by the fact that students were supposedly telling us what to do, but I prefer to look at it from a different perspective. I actually applaud these students for they are proving something: they are using the voice the school has helped them build in order to express what they believe in. For me, more than a sermon I did not ask for, more that a lesson I did not want to learn (as track No. 12 says), this is the validation of the kind work the whole school has done.
If we will not be OK when students raise their voices, even if this is to say something about us, then we are being hypocritical. Why would we try to foster critical thinking, leadership and expression skills, if we are not going to make room to listen to them. I feel there is no need to psychoanalyse, or be paranoid about this experience, for expressing how we feel must be a part of the learning process. As for me, I am glad I was told where I could be doing wrong, for now I know how to avoid situations that could be counterproductive. At the end of the day, I am still learning.
Besides, as teachers, isn’t our profession beautiful because we know that we will always need to learn something new?