A story shared - young boy growing through puberty to adolescence only to find out that they actually were capable. Self disbelief starting at an early age can impact on a child right through their lives. This self disbelief can impact on their sense of worth and contribute to suicide.

This is a glimpse at something you no doubt have knowledge of but from this persons experience. This topic is a significant challenge everywhere.

There is plenty or press and awareness of the sexual predatory behaviour of people who have authority or sway and influence over young people but the subject I am canvassing here gets somewhat lost & can still be very devastating. The down bullying of an individual child – the acceptance that a child’s ability is less than it is in fact and that thought being taken through years of association with the same school. No teacher finding the ignition button,everyone falling back to the thought that the child was at their best and that was low average.

Case study:-

A young boy started school and did not immediately show promise (as they say).

As the year and then years went on, the level of achievement was medium to below average. The school operated a streaming policy, brightest boys on stream 1,those ‘not showing promise’, stream four.

A boy in stream four was then seen to be a slower, less likely to achieve. This impacted across all subjects and even extended to sport. It would seem that teachers shared their expectations and so nothing was expected of him really in any way and he was allowed to just exist in the system.

Becauseof his low self-esteem, even the boy didn’t expect much and behaviours associated with that surfaced. His speech was impacted on by stuttering, he didn’t make friends, didn’t include in sport.

At15 years of age he spoke to the headmaster (an amazing thing to do givenhis state) and they together deiced to speak to his parents about leaving school and getting a job –"he might find success there”. Why they would think that, given the 10 yearsthey had authority over him had not proven useful?

He left and gained a job, this is more about excellent leadership of the employer,employing this stammering underachiever.

Within 6 weeks, the stammering had almost disappeared, he had enrolled in ‘nightschool’ and at the end of the year, he had skipped one year level and was in the top 5 achievers. One might argue that there was information gained at school that enabled this academic transformation but that would only be half the story.

This person left school with a pronounced stammer and a self-esteem based on the proof given to by teachers and the school system through time that he was either dumb, lazy or in some other way imperfect. 

It took this person only about six weeks on leaving school to actually make the discovery that he was in fact of some value. He had the validation of the academic success and having been promoted within the first six months in his employment, he had that also to start informing him of new self conclusions.

Bullying and abuse come in all sorts of packaging, this lack of positive expectation is how it came to him. Bullying him down through inappropriate actions. Not only were these actions by successive teachers bullying down by nature, the boy also bullied himself through not having thetools to counter their behavior. His parents didn’t know to come to theschool and get better service for their son, they just accepted that he wasn’tvery bright. That did depreciate their appreciation and expectations andacceptance of him and him of himself!

It was all self-fulfilling. No one was surprise each year, this was his limit!

This boy married and had children, he sent his son to his old school – that was about honouring his father, not his love or respect for the school. It was also probably still about, "it was probably me and so my son will be OK”

In the first instance, the teachers and lack of leadership at the school were seriously flawed. In the case of the son, he was falling behind in one of his years,as were many students who attended a particular teachers classes. Because he now had self-esteem, the father addressed the master, got nowhere, spoke with thehead of the middle school, got nowhere, spoke to the head of curriculum, gotnowhere. Then he spoke to the headmaster, almost got nowhere until explaining that he would bring the parents together of students in that class to underline ‘our’ concerns.

They were working from a denial and save face position, not wanting to hear criticism.However when it became apparent that the father was not going to let it go, a 2nd teacher was placed in the class of the underperforming teacher to observe and it was suddenly (after five years) recognised he didn’t really know how to teach.

Through effective mentoring, the missing elements of teaching were identified and that year was his most successful. It was always there for him if anyone had bothered to do their job or parents had have had the courage to confront the teacher, the system.

If the school took care, were aware of those falling behind and not categorising them, judging them, dismissing them, more honourable outcomes would be achieved.. Today because of the work I do, I often find myself involved with friends who are parents talking about situations with regard to schooling where teachers need help to be the best they can be.

 Those questions can be under performance oriented but also to do with children who are outstanding. Situations where the school allows certain negative behaviours because the child will help to deliver outstanding performance to the school, academically and in sports or through extra curricular activities.

Bullying and harassment will be happening between staff, parentsto staff, children to children, staff to children, academic and administrative / grounds. It will be happening and if your reality is disbelieve, then you will be missing a giant opportunity and failing the children and others who are being caught up in it. 

It is possible to change behaviours. It is not useful to agree with others about another to the negative. Strategies must be identified to remedy situations that are not productive. Not knowing the strategy to adopt is not the sin, doing nothing about something that is not working is.