Mother Teresa said that if we wanted to change the world, we should go home and love our family. Five years into the teaching profession, I have come to understand the deep truth of the message.
My keenest observation as a high school teacher is how easy it is to teach students who are loved at home and have a stable family life compared to those who are starved of affection or lack proper guidance and attention at home. When at home, a child receives the proper attention and emotional nourishment one needs, and comes to school prepared to listen and learn. When the basic human need for affection and feeling of importance are met, students tend to function well. But most kids starved of affection at home come to school seeking it through different ways, such as rowdiness, disruptive behavior, and overdependence on peers. Or they yield easily to peer pressure and engage in immature romantic relationships, thinking that other people can fill the void within.
Sure. There are many other factors that contribute to student misdemeanors, and family situations are as unique as the next person. What I’m trying to do here is shed light on one factor we don’t always recognize and propose a solution we often overlook: love.
As trite as it sounds, it is a powerful tool that can make people whole. In these trying times, do we make sure our children know we truly love them through our deeds? Our love for our children should not be taken for granted (“They know it already,” or “I’m doing all of these for them”). It should be more than a feeling; it should be expressed and shown.
The good thing is, the acts to show love do not need to be over-the-top. The simplest act of talking to the children—and I mean real talk, more than the usual surface talking—will be a good start.
As teachers we can only do so much, and it will not suffice. We face about 250 students a day, and as much as we want to, we cannot accurately diagnose each one’s struggles. I hope most of them go back to a warm home every day — a place where they feel loved, secure, accepted, where they can share the issues of their day and receive warm counsel, not immediate negative reactions and judgments.
Because, you know, the struggle right now is not merely man vs external forces. Mental health issues are real and rampant and attacks the most vulnerable members of society—the children. Thus, these issues must be duly recognized and given proper attention.
Teenagers can truly become a handful, but I have come to learn that, indeed, the person who is most difficult to love is the person who needs love the most.
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Rvie E. Macalisang, 26, is an English teacher at Sagay City Senior High School.
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