I am a mum of 2 small boys… 3 and a quarter (the quarter is very important) and 15 months. I’m viewing parenthood as an interesting anthropological study and it’s certainly influencing my teaching role in many ways; extreme fatigue caused by lack of sleep to name just one.
One interesting thing about my 3-year-old at the moment is that he is learning to share. He’s good at it… when he wants to be. To a small child, sharing does not come naturally. Does it for any of us?
We tend to assume, in adult society, that we are all civilised enough to share – but is this true? Every adult I know gets territorial sometimes, usually over silly little things that don’t really matter. Be it their favourite seat, their mug, the computer they usually sit at… sometimes we don’t find it easy to share at all. We don’t resort to screaming and hitting, as a young child would; instead we give stony glares across the staffroom or mutter to ourselves over our marking… at worst we might send a barbed email ‘Could whomever has ‘borrowed’ my blue dotty mug please return it ASAP, it is very precious to me…’ we may type, concealed venom dripping from each inverted comma. Yet we expect the young people in our classrooms to share their space, equipment, even ideas all day long.
Watching my 3-year-old try to learn to share, struggling to understand why he should give up the one thing that just right now, is the best thing in the whole world, is causing me to reflect on how we as adults share. Some colleagues seem to have an inexhaustible supply of brilliant ideas, throwing them out left, right and centre while the rest of us wonder where on earth they get the time and energy. Others like to share tales both good and bad of what has happened to them today. Some like to share tea and cake. It is all these forms of sharing that make us a whole, a cohesive unit, a school rather than a collection of individuals in separate classrooms.
Every day, sharing just a few words with a variety of colleagues gives me something I need to do my job. A new idea or technique to try in class. An insight into how to handle a tricky student. An opportunity to vent some stress in a safe environment. A smile or a laugh. Teaching could easily be a lonely profession: surrounded by people, each teacher works alone most of the time: it is the snatched 5-minute conversations in between that hold us together. And maybe the tea and cake.
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