Wednesday, March 17, 2010


“Those who trust us educate us.”
         -- George Eliot, Daniel Deronda

         I imagine teenage students are somewhat stunned whenever they come upon a teacher who actually trusts them. In their shaky relations with teachers (and all adults), real trust is probably seldom offered to them by their skeptical caretakers. Adolescent students are probably more often thought of as prospective offenders than promising scholars, which is why many of us teachers tie them securely to rules and regulations rather than releasing them to their innate sense of responsibility and correctness. We don’t trust the students because we fear what might come to pass if we did.  I’m no different than most, being usually a little leery of adolescent craziness blossoming in the classroom when my back is turned. However, I’m slowly learning to care for my students the way I cared for my four children when they were learning to walk – by trusting that they can and will do what’s required of them. When they were ready to unsteadily try their first steps, I had to trust that they could and would do it. I had to stand aside and consent to their right to be their own little best selves or fail gallantly in the attempt. There were many failures, of course, just as there are occasional failures when I trust my students. They sometimes collapse into youthful madness and disregard, for which they receive just consequences, and from which they learn of the sting that comes from mistreating a teacher’s trust. Like my children, however, the students continue to receive my trust, for how else can they continue striding – or staggering – toward trustworthy adulthood?

No comments: