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visitors since May 12, 2002
July 26, 2002
Report from the classroom

During the week I taught a chess class at a very small Catholic primary school. I liked the school: it was small and friendly and the staff had a very positive attitude. I was there with another chess teacher, and we had a bunch of twenty students between the ages of 6 and 9. Because there were two of us, we had the luxury of being able to split the class. We divided people according to age and experience at chess. The other teacher took the smallest, most inexperienced ones, and I took the rest.

We'd been told about one particular little boy who had a temporary hearing problem, but he was hard to spot in the sea of eager little faces. But I noticed that as the younger kids moved to one part of the classroom, one very young kid didn't go with them. And just at that moment I noticed that he had a bandage on one ear. And just as I moved forward to help him, I noticed something else.

One of the other little boys was looking out for this kid. As soon as this boy understood what was needed, he took the other by the hand and gently guided him to where he had to go. Then he came back straight back and waited for his own instructions.

I think that's one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen in a primary school. For myself, I remember those years as being a kind of Darwinian playground. The weakest kids were constantly mocked, sneered at, and roasted over a slow fire. Then they were sprinkled with salt, and eaten. This treatment only stopped if someone said "this is boring. Let's eat someone else."

For so many people, school is the Survival of the Angriest. And I've certainly seen evidence that this is still the case, but not at this particular school. One little kid being kind and compassionate - without being asked to, without having to be rewarded - makes me think that I should be spending more time in this environment.

All of a sudden, teaching little kids seems like a real job. I stumbled into it by accident, but I like it.

     Posted by Sean Hegarty at 05:33 PM in the Educational category | Comments (0)
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