The fundamental role of a teacher is not to deliver information but to make kids feel like they are important, and have an adult who will never give up on them.
When my first child was born, I didn’t realise I was signing up for Mission Impossible. Even as my daughter grew into a toddler and was joined by her two little brothers, I failed to grasp the enormity of the task I was up against. In fact, it was only when I became a teacher and began working with adolescents that I drew the unavoidable conclusion: raising a child is impossible.
Since I constantly see teenagers grow up before my eyes, I have no choice but to become deeply familiar with their unique burdens and struggles. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat down with a student in tears and found myself the unwitting counsellor for a child going through a dark period of depression and anxiety.
And I can totally understand why: the world these children live in is changing more rapidly than ever before; they are constantly exposed to crushing expectations and pressures through social media; and every individual is taught by our society that they are supposed to find a unique path through life that will earn them financial success, lead to personal satisfaction and make a positive contribution to their community. No mean feat even in the best of circumstances.
This is why it feels like raising a child today is impossible – that is unless you can surround that child with a community of co-learners who can support them in their struggles, with a diverse and skilled team of professionals who can bring out the best in a range of personalities, and with an environment embodying the conviction that all people are capable of much more than they realise once given the opportunities. In other words, unless you can bring a child into a school.
It isn’t easy to raise a child today. It never has been. But as a parent, I take courage that there’s hope found in my children’s classrooms and playgrounds. And as an educator, I count it a great privilege to be part of the noble profession that is guiding tomorrow’s leaders – because it takes a school to raise a child.
– Eddie Woo