Educating a child is the least definable professional endeavour one can pursue. Arguably.
There is simply no guidebook for the proper facilitation of each individual seated in front of you at the beginning of a school day.
Sure, there are enough models for best practice to fill every bakery in South Australia, yet none can accurately serve to offer explicit instruction to reach every individual in a cluster.
We can research learning disorders, behavioural disorders, psychological manifestos, delve deep into our psyches and memories but, in the end, there can be no hard and fast rule when dealing with children. For every argument you can make for one course of action or decision, there can often be an equally compelling counter-argument.
Part of the difficulty of the profession is that the subjects are removed from the content. Other industries may identify variables and implement strategies to eliminate their detrimental influence on a final outcome. Think engineering. Architecture. Photography. Cooking. Obstacles can be identified and removed. You can’t do that with a child.
Obviously, you can implement strategies to aid a child ease into an educational setting from which to get the best out of themselves, but it can’t be guaranteed and it can’t be one-size-fits-all. Just as you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it enjoy the view – some children can be facilitated to the nth degree by their teacher, but they won’t necessarily benefit from the effort.
Each child, you see, is exquisitely unique. Frustratingly so, at times, but absolutely unique nonetheless.
Each child brings with them their own experiences, their own interests, hopes, dislikes, worries, their own sets of social norms. Their own self doubts.
Even by implementing the best educational practice techniques, you simply cannot ensure that you are supporting the whole child the whole of the time.
When I consider this, I think it helpful to consider the way in which we see the world. I only see out of one eye and I occasionally will block its sight so I see out of the other eye. The view is essentially the same (though far more blurry) but the angle is slightly different.
No matter your teaching style or technique, each pair of eyes and ears in front of you will have a slightly different view to what you are saying and your words will enter their ears subtly different to how they exited your minds.
Like a beautiful sunrise, I don’t particularly want to find out the answers to any of the above. I simply wish to marvel at the uniqueness of the human race and to enjoy those moments of clear connection that arise frequently from dealing with children – even if that connection is not necessarily shared both ways!
As much as I try and plan an engaging, interesting approach to the teaching of every concept I teach, I can’t guarantee that the 5 year old in front of me will be more interested in it than his dissappointment at what’s in his lunchbox or his counting down the uncertain minutes to play time.
That’s the frustration of teaching children. That’s the joy.