Education - Consider Who Will Be Wounded

While I think it is important to stand up for what is right, we must always consider how the battle will affect those closest to us. Here is an educational battle that took place in my life that took many years to correct.

I grew up going to the local Lutheran church. My father, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. were life-long members. When my mother married my father she became a Lutheran. Over a period of years that membership fell apart for my mother and there was much controversy between her and the members of the church. Before much of this took place, my mother volunteered in the Sunday School program every week. One of the church teachers (a lady who taught the first grade), was the teacher that my mother assisted. While I do not remember this part of the story, my mother related it throughout her life with glee. The story was always the same, so I know that it was pretty close to the truth.

As mom was sitting in the back of the Sunday School class listening to the teacher tell a Bible story, she became puzzled by what the teacher was saying. I was around three or four at the time. The teacher kept talking about a Bible character named Nebuchadnezzar. The teacher kept pronouncing it as "New-buck-in-eeee-zer." Mom had always heard it pronounced much differently. At one point in the story my mother finally figured out who that teacher was talking about. She blurted out very loudly from the back of the room, "Oh now I finally know who you are talking about!" She laughed loudly and pronounced the name as she believed it should be correctly spoken and then made fun of this teacher that she pronounced it wrong in front of the whole class. My mother had the correct pronunciation of the word. She was right as rain, but she did not consider how her speaking up would eventually harm one of us.

A few years passed. I attended this Lutheran school beginning in Kindergarten. That first year was wonderful and I loved school. The next year for first grade, I was in the class with the teacher that my mother had made a spectacle of a few years before. This was not bad enough but I also had a learning disability that no one knew about, especially back then.

Week after week I sat in this first grade class struggling with my reading assignments. I so loved school. I don't remember having an opinion of my teacher one way or the other. I was more concentrated on the beautiful bulletin boards that we had and the children I played with. I also loved to learn so much that I did not even realize that I was not doing so well in school. Day after day this teacher would call on me to answer questions that I did not know and then make an example of my stupidity in front of the class. When a child is small they do not understand these things, it just goes down deep inside that a child feels really inadequate and stupid. What used to be fun for me to participate in class discussions became torture. All of this was happening without my parent's knowledge. I was too young to discern the emotional attack that was going on.

When our first report cards came out, my parents were appalled at my horrible grades. There was another big display from my mother with the teacher over this. Why was she not informed of what was going on earlier? Could the incident that happened earlier between this teacher and my mother have a bearing on what I was now suffering day to day in class. Even if it did, the teacher was way out of line to do such a thing to an innocent child.

It was at this time that my mother began to work with me at home to teach me how to read. I will be forever grateful for her help in this area. Today, I owe a lot of what she did to help me in this area to establish my love for reading and education. I just wish that my mother had had a better relationship with my teacher because she never knew how deeply this whole thing affected me for many many years. It also affected how the other children treated me too. It was at that time that I began to bite my nails and I constantly did whatever I could to pull away socially in a classroom setting. It took an English teacher in High School to finally pull me out of my shell during class discussions in his class.

Whether we are a parent or a teacher, we as adults must guard the emotions of children as we work with them. We will never do it perfect but it is good to be aware of our actions and how they can hurt or help others.

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