Sometimes educators fall into the trap of viewing their ‘class’ as a unified being. It’s not. There are no ‘good’ classes and ‘bad’ classes. A class actually consists of many entirely unique individuals who tend to be roughly the same age, at the same place, with a similar purpose in mind.
But behind the face of each of these young individuals is a lifetime of stories that we, as educators, can never fully appreciate.
If we use some major Australian and international research studies to help us think about the composition of a ‘class’ statistically, we might recognise that, in the course of the year, a typical ‘class’ of 25 Year 8 students looks something like this:
- 4 students are experiencing a diagnosable mental health condition (only 1 of these will seek professional help);
- 2 students are self-harming;
- 2 students will seriously consider a suicide attempt;
- 2 students will be experiencing some form of family breakdown at home;
- 5 students are unsure of their sexuality and 3 will end up being LGBTI;
- 5 students don’t make friends easily at school;
- 7 students feel that they “don’t belong at school”.
…and many of our students are happy and engaged.
But it is these kinds of statistics that help remind us that our job is not to teach science or geography or Grade 5, and it’s not to teach our ‘class’. Our job is to compassionately guide, nurture and teach each unique child.
[Sources: PISA 2015, Australian Human Rights Commission, Beyond Blue]