Alex Barton’s Lesson

All parents are teachers but many of us are mere amateurs.

I have long been an admirer of the teaching profession, their vocation and dedication, all of them. We entrust our children into their care, in loco parentis, secure in the knowledge that they will do their part in guiding them along the treacherous path to adulthood.

I was therefore a little alarmed to read that a young Kindergartener, “Alex Barton,” had been voted out of his class, a bit like one of those popular reality shows on the telly. This wasn't a case like “Lord of the Flies,” where the children had run amuck without adult supervision, but rather, his ousting was instigated by his teacher.

It made “me” wonder. It made lots of “people” wonder. It made his mum take “action.”

I wondered why a teacher might do such a thing? Five years old, seems a little young to be teaching Darwin's theory of “survival of the fittest,” but I'm obviously not up to date on the State curriculum.

How else might this have come about? Maybe this was merely a role playing exercise, helping the children learn “kinesthetically,” where we learn by doing. An early introduction to the power of the vote, elections and democracy?

Then there's public speaking or the debating aspect. There are any number of valuable lessons to be learned, to say nothing of voicing opinions and sharing.

Perhaps this was a carefully orchestrated plan, to teach inclusion by demonstrating exclusion, lesson one, with a follow up next week?

It could be that this was a litmus test to check the class' moral fibre, a bench mark and launch pad for a new campaign of social awareness.

Alternatively the teacher decided that her students were in need of a demonstration of the “bystander effect.” The bystander effect is when an incident occurs that requires action from the onlookers but few are able step up to the plate. Alex found that two of his classmates were able to act, but who would choose to test five year olds?

I expect it was something to do with the harsh lessons of reality, that life can be a “popularity contest.” When is the right time, developmentally and chronologically to learn that lesson?

I wonder what her plan was? I'm just curious. It seems a curious lesson plan to amateurs. I wonder if the rest of her profession concurs? I somehow doubt it. I suspect she is in the minority, singled out with a unique perspective. I wonder if she is a good sharer? I'd love to know her perspective? I'm sure we'd all like to understand.

My own behaviour as a parent would not hold up well under public scrutiny.

I'm sure there are some saintly types around who never lose their cool. Sadly, I'm not one of them. All to often, every day in fact, I'm pushed to the point of “exasperation.” I lack the patience and temperament for “teaching,” and more importantly, a vocation. My retaliation is usually in the form of sarcasm. Luckily no-one around here understands sarcasm. Unluckily my tone makes the underlying message unmistakable = Mum is mad. I make many mistakes and more than a few hideous blunders. I've learned to forgive myself the errors and vow to do a better job tomorrow, every day, but that's the nature of human frailty.

Fortunately, no-one's going to call me to account for my misdeeds.

I get away Scott free.

It's only all the “children” that will pay.

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