There’s probably not a teacher out there who hasn’t had that conversation. The one where you’re being introduced to someone for the first time and they ask what you do. You tell them you’re a teacher, and they smile, nod and say something along the lines of, ‘How rewarding. Knowing that you’re shaping future generations. It must be great to share your knowledge with young people.’
And it is. Mostly. Of course, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t days when I’d rather poke out my eyes with a blunt stick than stand in front of a class, but those days are few and far between. For the most part, teaching is a wonderful, privileged and rewarding job.
But not necessarily for the reasons people think.
Because, for all those times when I have shared my knowledge, there have been times when students have shared their knowledge with me. Teaching is a two-way street, and I have learned so much from my students. That’s the truly rewarding thing about this job.
So, here is a selection of just five of the things my students have taught me over the years:
- Life is hard for young people.
Now, more than ever before, it is hard to get by as a teenager. The world is a smaller place, and its pressures are 24/7. Social media never sleeps. Games, TV, the internet, they’re all available, all day every day. Young people are ruthlessly targeted by marketing campaigns that want their full and undivided attention, that tell them they need to be thinner, prettier, cooler, stronger. Young people have to be focused to resist the temptations and the messaging that bombards them all day, every day.
- Flossing is not something you do to your teeth.
Or rather, it is, but it’s also a dance. An impossible dance. Don’t try it. Definitely don’t try it in front of a class of teenagers.
- Standards are getting higher.
Despite what the media might say, exams and assessments are getting more difficult. Young people today amaze me – I am convinced I never had to produce the standard or depth of work that they do.
- We’re all different. But also, we’re all the same.
Young people get this. As an adult, it can be easy to get sucked into intolerance or prejudice, but most of the teenagers I’ve met are tolerant and open-minded. They understand that we have more in common than divides us. No mean feat, when they are often exposed to adult ‘role-models’ who are petty, mean-spirited and divisive.
- Keeping up.
Kris was married to Robert and then Caitlyn. Between them, the kids are Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie. And Rob.
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