Tuesday is one of my teaching days at the University Centre, Blackburn College. Mainly on a Tuesday I teach modules on the Positive Practice with Children and Young People Foundation Degree. I enjoy teaching and have been teaching in Further and Higher Education since 1998. At that time I was a PGCE student at Bolton Institute. Returning to Blackburn College to do my teaching practise was a lovely experience, tinged with a sense of homecoming.
When I think of teaching I think of Irvin Yalom's concept of the 'ripple effect' - teaching ideas and skills that learners can use to improve their practice as care professionals out there in my local community. So I love hearing stories from my students, about how they are changing the lives of children and young people as a result of learning achieved in the classroom. Teaching is very much a two way process though and I reckon I learn as much from my students as they do from me.
Today I was working on an assignment with a group of students; a module about mediation, advocacy and counselling. We were talking about bullying and how we can help children understand the effects, including the long term effects, of being bullied. One student told me about a simple but powerful approach used at her school.
The teacher crumples up a piece of paper to symbolise what it's like to be bullied. She then asks the pupils to smooth out the paper and get rid of the wrinkles. Of course nobody can get rid of the wrinkes: you can smooth out the paper but the creases remain. And this is what happens when a child is abused, neglected or bullied. Recovery may take place but the harm inflicted on the child leaves its mark, on the individual and the choices they make throughout their life. It's a powerful metaphor and one I will use in my counselling and teaching.