I’m so sorry Ms. Teacher. You’re a mother. And you have to accept it. Please be different and enduring! Not as the other many teachers who write-off their weak pupils out of frustration, and focus on the bright ones alone. Please, be patient too; patience can soften stones; it’s the most essential virtue in the teaching profession. It’s not a minor task, but please carry every child along; especially the willing ones. Many schoolchildren teachers often complain! This child is stubborn, that one is dull, another is difficult, the other one is a slow learner – on-and-on, the complains are endless. And I often ask them: “Do you expect all children to be perfect from home?” Ms. Teacher, I’m sure you’re aware that “if all children are perfect from home, or if there’s no conflict, I mean no mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes or external or internal demand amidst pupils, then teachers/teaching would be devoid of services and isn’t worth a profession.” As a mother that you truly are, you should have a large heart to accommodate a vomiting child, an incontinent child, an autistic child, the one that always reminds you you’d never rest in the class; and even the one that always reminds you that you have your own children to take care of. Teach each child the difficult path of peace, give them enough courage to beat such a path, even if conflict is predominant.
Try to understand that the class is a conflict room and that you are a conflict manager. Each child emits different shades of conflicting colours. One child calls ‘red’ blue; another says it’s pink; the other says it’s orange…isn’t that conflicting enough? Then you’re fed up! Almost like your effort isn’t yielding visible results. You deceive yourself if you think all of your effort is wasted. You’re all wrong, your effort shouldn’t compulsorily yield visible results every time. You’re human not a human-changer. Do you always see the foundation of a magnificent structure? But that is what holds it in place. Your effort should be foundational for pupils to build themselves upon; you’re not re-making them, they’re already made: adorable, full of flowers waiting for you to take them into their peculiar blossoming seasons. Please, Ms. Teacher, make sure to help each child realize how much bright he could be no matter how weak or dull he is–that’s your duty! You could change your method if needs be. But please, make sure to keep up the effort and laugh at the result when it appears funny. Well, you always laugh when you sometimes remember the conflicting opinions of your class children during weekends, don’t you? Just recognise and benefit from your pupils’ differences/conflicting characters and views. It is those differences in those children that make teaching sweet! And the story worth telling. Yes, sweet. Perhaps you think I was going to say tedious. Of course teaching is tedious. Yeah, I know. I’m a teacher too, and so I know; yes, I know; I know that school sometimes is a seat of tension for teachers. It’s sometimes a seat of community conflicts because that’s where community problems are often manifested. So, you have the community posing many of its problems before you to solve. I know that you have to be a teacher first; then a lawyer when Nasir and Emmanuel bring erring reports; a builder with Lego blocks during playtime; a police when Victor and Samuel are brawling; a doctor to ailing Segun; a senator at the beginning of the term when it’s time to write class rules; a pastor when Bob behaves stupidly around Ashley; a nutritionist that suggests to Anita’s mother the food she needs at her age; a sport instructor on Wednesday during PE; a philosopher when’s it time to reason — isn’t that also conflicting? You’re everything to a child, Ms. Teacher–everything you are, and it’s difficult to be everything. That’s why you’ve to accept that you’re a mother.
In your class you can have some children crying, some laughing and making noise, and some dozing off simultaneously with each group needing your attention; that’s also conflicting. It’s very testing dealing with a crying child and another laughing child at the same time. Even though it is unrewarding, allow every child freedom of expression of self. In every feeling or every situation is a better explanation of life. If they want to smile, let them smile thoroughly. If they want to cry, allow them to cry thoroughly too; it’s not a shameful thing to cry. But please, don’t forget to sometimes pet them when they cry; and don’t be surprise they cry often. Both laughter and crying are just different shades of the same colour from the same heart trying to get relief. Sometimes we resist the urge to cry and force ourselves to laugh, only to realize that laughing can’t trigger the same relief as crying… Don’t avoid crying if you truly feel it’d help. Master Oogway said that one often meets his destiny on the path he takes to avoid.
Ms. Teacher, don’t repeat the mistake common in many schools. One of the greatest mistakes ever made by schools is when it celebrates winners and neglects the losers, not remembering that their failures were the reasons why success stories are worth telling. The school should be a place to not only discover academic success, but a place to administer medicines to the maladies of failure. They should not be neglected. That’s what makes hospitals more perfect. Unlike schools, test in hospitals is not always to create conflicts: to separate the bright from the unbright, or to create mental divides, but to make doctors not gamble with patients’ life by guess work (or guess-treatment); to enable doctors make informed decision that’ll help the patient heal fastest. How about if school-test serve this same purpose Ms. Teacher? Won’t it have reduced mental conflicts in schools? Are teachers sure of the learning method of each child? Or guessing that all children, even though conflicting, have similar learning method?
I know how hard it is to leave your own children in the hands of others who you don’t trust and who focus on other children. I know how hard and frustrating it is to handle a class of twenty-five different people. It’s also conflicting managing different people with different needs, different strength, different weaknesses, different aspirations, different opinions and shoes sizes at the same time is really conflicting — if not the greatest of all human conflicts. But believe you me, that’s what makes teachers’ and schools’ stories much more worth telling and reading than other professionals!’ Without the little differences in all of those adorable children, there can’t be real school stories for teachers to tell. I know how it feels for the noises and becks of different children to re-echo in your ears after class each day. Funnily, that’s the joy of motherhood or teacherhood. If classes were like heaven, then schoolchildren would be angels, and then no differences/challenges/conflicts/failures; no reporting of each other’s, no frustrating noises: then no story to tell. Because of perfection, angels always have blank biographies. If there is no conflict in school, I mean differences that prevent agreement, or disagreement between ideas and feelings, etc., then there can’t be opportunities for real teaching; for teachers to demonstrate their commitments and patient and empathy and love and professionalism. Please Ms. Teacher, do not forget to teach other teachers who might not be patient with difficult children that there is beauty in the uniqueness of each child. Please, don’t forget, don’t forget, Ms. Teacher, that you’re a mother first, and a mother would never throw any of her children away because of differences or conflicts and frustrations. Thanks. Thanks Ms. Teacher, for being a conflict manager.
Where is the peace to sweeten our stories….? We’ll never see it when we put on prejudice lenses; when conflict is surreptitiously chipped into the modified versions of some of our religious books; when we treat others based on skin-colours or nose shapes or grades; when some governments train their children in expensive schools and leave the children of the masses on the streets to learn to survive using mock-guns; when masses neglect saviours and vote-in brutes; when some journalists use their pen as a sword and microphone as a bomb; when some farmers poison the pastures for the herds and herdsmen destroy farmlands with their herds; when some of my country policemen sometimes enforce bullying and relax order; when some of our Black Brothers treat foreigners as sinners, leaving their relatives to count the holes left by those who didn’t survive xenophobic attacks. It’s hard for peace to grow, because we’re starving it with some of our actions. If we keep our prejudice lenses, conflict would remain the sugar of our stories; until we give peace enough-ways to sweeten all of life.