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  • Anna Brix Thomsen

Who I am is Who I’ll Teach my Kids to Be: DAY 51

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been working with becoming the best teacher I can possibly be. One of the ways I’ve worked with this is through making sure that when I’m with the kids, that I am 100 % unconditionally here with them and not thinking about going home or being somewhere else. So the previous week I’ve worked with this point, both through writing, self-forgiveness and practical application. So I’ve simply focused on stopping the thoughts that come up and this has turned out to be very effective. I am much more able to simply be here and enjoy being with the kids and give them my full attention. Even when I’ve had a ’bad day’ or some bad experiences before going to work, I’ve been able to go into the classroom and be consistent and present with the work. So I have realized that this is what it means to be professional and why it is so important to be professional, to not take owns own stuff to work, but to be able to remain here, consistent and fully present. So I am quite satisfied with this side of my application. For me this is also quite an interesting point because throughout my entire life I’ve been vehemently against working and I’ve been quite scared of getting a regular ‘nine to five’ job. So I’ve found it refreshing and surprising that one can work in such a job and yet not have that experience of feeling trapped.

So the point that I’d like to continue working with, is more in relation to ’who’ I am as a teacher, in relation to being too nice, but also in relation to ‘missing the mark’ in terms of what to expect from my students. I’ve found that I either expect too much or too little. In the beginning when I started the job, I was quite ambitious and thought that I had to ‘educate’ using regular materials such as textbooks. However as I’ve continued my work, I’ve discovered that it is possible to teach in a way that isn’t boring or tedious for the students. However I also see that I’ve then gone too far off in the opposite direction of only focusing on the lessons being fun and enjoyable for the kids. So what I’ve seen is that this relates to my own relationship with doing things I judge as ‘tedious’, things that are hard and that I don’t already know how to do. So when I’m faced with students who express that they find the course material boring or when they say they don’t want to do it, I go into a state of panic. I’ve also thought that it is my job to make it fun and as such if the kids aren’t enjoying it, then it is my ‘fault’ and responsibility because I’m not professional enough as a teacher.

But what I’ve also learned in my own life – or rather, I’ve understood it but not yet entirely implemented it into and as myself as a living expression of who I am, is the point of doing things that are hard and difficult or pushing through something that’s tedious simply because it is a necessary process in order to understand a certain subject. An example could be practicing multiplication tables in math. Now here also the point of balance comes in. Because I see how it doesn’t have to be so that one just have to ‘drill’ these tables through a boring method of memorization. I am certain that there must be ways of learning these tables that are flexible and dynamic. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean that students don’t have to face the point of something requiring a lot of work and effort.

So what I’ve done is to allow them to make excuses and justifications and I’ve let them get away with it. I’ve not done this purposefully – but because of an automated pattern within myself of doing the same. And the consequence in my life has been that I haven’t learned the value of hard work nor the delay of gratification that is necessary in almost all fields of life. When I was a kid I spent my weekly allowance on candy every single time and so I was never able to save up money to buy something that I really wanted.

In a class recently with an eight grade student, we talked about cliches and cultural expressions. I shared with her some Danish expressions that she didn’t know. One of them is a traditional cliche that says: “Don’t jump the fence where it is lowest” and it refers to a moral of not taking short cuts or taking the easiest way out. But as my student say: “It doesn’t make sense. Why not jump the fence where it is lowest?” And I had to agree with her. And we talked about how such cultural cliches sometimes lose their meaning because society changes. So there is a lesson in that as well. That its not just about learning hard work for the sake of making work hard. Learning can definitely be fun and fast and enjoyable. But that doesn’t mean that we should cut corners when we are faced with something we find difficult. 

So this is a point that I’d like to work on within myself and with the kids. Because I certainly don’t want to stand as an example of cutting corners to them, teaching them to make excuses and justifications for not doing something that might not be fun in the moment. The expression ‘cutting corners’ is actually quite accurate because I tend to ‘cut’ corners when I’m walking around in the house. I always try to take the shortest path, but the result is that I often walk into the corners because I try cutting them too close resulting in bruises on my body.

In the next post I will commence with self-forgiveness on this point so that I can release myself from this point and stand up and take self-responsibility for myself within it, so that I can change myself as the example that I am to the kids I work with. Because if I don’t understand or appreciate the value of hard work, how can I expect that they will? If I accept and allow myself to make excuses and justifications for not doing something that I find tedious or difficult, how can I expect any different of them? And as such this is the task we have as teachers and adults in general. We can’t teach kids something that we’re not living ourselves and they will reflect ‘who’ we are right back in our face, which is sometimes not so enjoyable, but none the less necessary for us to see that a change is required.

In conjunction with this blog series, I suggest to take a moment to read the following blog-post on Basic Income and Teaching where the points I’ve discussed here are further expanded upon.

I recommend reading the following blogs:

Natural Learning Abilities blog series – a MUST READ! 

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