I recently have started a teaching qualification. Whilst I already work in sports coaching and I teach in school, I have no formal specific teaching qualifications. In doing this I have started to look at how pupils view their teachers.
A pupil approached me and was obviously trying to impress me with his exploits and purchases at the weekend – a new phone and trainers. I had seen his father at a recent event and he was boasting about his new car, their behaviours seemed strikingly similar.
This started me thinking about behaviours and how we seek the approval of parents for our actions and how we are rewarded for this. Do we reward and show approval of material acquisitions or do reward effort?
We talk of teachers acting as role models, but it is interesting to see how pupils model the ways they seek rewards based what their parents actions. It would be unfair of me to criticise them for seeking praise for material acquisitions, if that child sees their parents driven by material possessions.
A child who has parents that do things to benefit society like helping at a hostel or a charity shop but don’t publicise it, I would imagine, are more likely to be charitable themselves. If drinking a bottle of wine at night is common practice in a house – can you blame a child for thinking that drinking a bottle of wine a day as acceptable? If a parent is occasionally aggressive or loses their cool in certain situations how when the child does the same can you tell them off? Learnt behaviours can be both positive and negative, and many happen without us thinking about it.
I have blogged in the past about my sons and how some behaviours like saying “thank you” after a meal can be social acceptable and even expected but when they are just a conditioned response they have no meaning. Social niceties are one thing but other behaviours are also learnt from our role models.
As a teacher and a parent I try to reward effort not just the final result. I like to try to make some things competency based, getting a child to master something and then move on. I am always surprised that we can learn something, get 40% in a test, pass and then move on to the next level – but we still haven’t learned 60% of that skill. As a role model, I hope I can help establish behaviours that encourage mastering skills rather than just rewarding the ego for passing exams.
What scares me, as a teacher and as a parent, is that whilst I try to be a good role model it is the behaviours I exhibit unwillingly that I know I should try to control. From biting nails to occasionally talking over people, I fear that I may model behaviours that may become learnt behaviours. But I am aware of these, and as a teacher, I need to reflect on my actions and consider things carefully. Perhaps as parents we also need to occasionally reflect on what we do and the impact it has on our children both positive and negative.
Till next week.
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