The other night I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine on twitter. Over the course of the conversation I made the comment “adults are always the problem”. I said it half jokingly and even made a side comment and promise to use it in my next presentation. However, as I think about the comment that was made somewhat in jest, I think there's a lot of truth to it. This is especially true when it comes to kids. Adults are definitely not always but very often the problem.
I reflect on some of the more difficult students I've taught over the course of my still relatively short career. I, and many of you, have worked with students that appear to have a complete lack of respect for authority. Students who do not value completing work either in or out of the classroom. We’ve all worked with those who treat their peers poorly and struggle to maintain a positive relationship.
In every single one of those situations I believe there is an adult to play. In most cases the adult is their own parent or guardian. Often they live in an environment were the adult has modeled behaviors they view as normal and that often clash within a school culture. The kid has no other choice because that's how they have had the world interpreted for them by the adults in their lives. We often blamed kids for the things they do at school. Yet, in a lot of cases behind the behavior is an adult and their actions and words.
The same could be said about teachers in some cases in school. Many student behaviors can be traced back to a comment an adult has made or the way in which an adult interacted with a student. A student not doing their work is often due to a poorly crafted assignment assigned by the adult. If there is a conflict in a class sometimes, that can often be traced back to the adult not creating and maintaining an environment or a culture of trust, honesty and most importantly safety.
To go a step further, when testing bombards students and the corporate reform movement frustrates the learning process, it is the adults who are screwing up kids’ natural desire to learn and be taught. Their curiosity knows no bounds. That is until an adult gets involved and complicates and burns that desire out. Adults are always the problem.
Yet having said all of that, adults are also almost always the solution. It is often the adults in a child's life such as a teacher that can help a child overcome a bad home life. It is often the adults in a child's life that can inspire and empower them to do great things beyond what they imagined for themselves. It is an adult that can help a child see past the bubble tests and standards to show them what is possible.
Yes, adults are always the problem. Nearly every single concern or issue or problem we have with a student can be very often if not always be traced back to an adult. However, in many cases when a child succeeds or goes on to do great things, it is often because of the actions or the words of an adult as well. As you look at your role as an adult and the work you do with kids, are you part of a child’s problem or are you part of their solution?