Cause and effect

whirlpool-266123_960_720Sometimes, life’s like a whirlpool. Everything’s confusing or tumultuous and under such circumstances, it’ is easy to be drawn into trouble. Once you put your foot in it, it’s difficult to get out; whatever you do is never quite right and if you decide to do nothing, it gets even worse. It’s simply too late for any action or inaction, no matter how much you want to improve the situation. All you can do is watch the mess, endure the suffering and learn from your painful experience.

But they say things happen for a reason. Scientists say that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Others believe that at each and every moment of our life, we experience the consequences of our past deeds and thoughts. So, the law of cause and effect will never let us rest on our laurels and it will always make us pay off all our debts.

Obviously, we’ve run up some of our debts quite inadvertently. Oftentimes, we don’t even know about them. And even though most of us live our lives doing the best we can, we’ve all had a few blind spots along the way.

rear-mirror-1119717_960_720One of those blind spots has recently been illuminated for me, so to speak. The other day, my eldest son told me about a girl he had met at a disco. She used to be a student of mine. He said that she was sending her regards to me. I was obviously pleased to hear it. But then my son added casually: “Well, and she also declared that you had never liked her”. I was shocked. It would have never occurred to me that this particular girl might feel this way. I searched through my mind. I remembered her very well. She was not the best student in the class, but she was quite good. Not a troublemaker or something. So I had no reason to dislike her. However, she felt I did …

I had a similar experience a few months later. I was at a graduation party my senior class had invited me to when a student came up to me and asked: “Mrs. Teacher, you never liked me, did you?” He said it in a lighthearted manner, with a broad smile on his face (and a glass of beer in his hand). Nevertheless, he did say it out loud.

I searched through my mind. The truth is that I had disciplined this boy quite a few times in the past – for using his mobile in the lesson (when it was forbidden), for not cooperating during speaking activities, for revising for other subjects during the class instead of focusing on English, etc. Also, I had given him a couple of Fs for failing to fulfill the requirements of the course.

Nevertheless, since then, I’ve had two more experiences resembling the scenarios above. When something happens once, it’s probably a coincidence. When it happens three or more times, one should start pondering ….. Why do students mix up strictness with a lack of affection? Do I openly favour some students? Do I frown too much on others? As I’m only human, I obviously do have a couple of teacher’s pets. Is it possible that some students are more sensitive than others? Even jealous, maybe?

Of course, it’s easier to show affection to a polite, hardworking student than to a complete rascal. Moreover, troublemakers don’t usually give a damn about what teachers think. Or at least it often appears so. But maybe I should try harder to let my students know that they are all equal to me – that I like them all the same – regardless of what they do. Boy, it’s not an easy mission. But they are only kids. They deserve to be loved and respected. No matter what….

 

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About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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2 Responses to Cause and effect

  1. Marc says:

    Ooh, Hana, you don’t know how hard this has hit me this morning! I think I have an awful lot to mull over.

    I know I’m strict, perhaps because English conversation classes often enjoy the stellar reputation enjoyed by personal health or cookery (actually useful subjects but not academic), and I want my learners to improve. I think I have chilled out a lot but is there capacity for more?

    Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Clare says:

    This is a hard one, isn’t it! I mean, it’s not our job to be popular, but when students believe that we actually don’t like them, this is unsettling for us! But I don’t think there’s anything particularly much we can do – apart from me open about these experiences, maybe at the beginning of a new class, and encourage students to come and see us if they’re not feeling good about our classes, making sure we have an open-door for students and so on.
    Or have you discovered other ways of easing he problem??

    Liked by 1 person

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