I have been watching a program called “Educating Yorkshire“, there was a series last year called “Educating Essex” So this is a follow on, the program is a documentary about life in a Yorkshire school, the staff appear to be a great bunch of people and obviously are doing something right as their school has risen in the league tables!

It’s the students behaviour that is more interesting, one student who is  constantly in the headmaster’s office for poor behaviour, initially claims the “race” card by accusing another boy of calling him a “Paki”, but it transpires that was never said and more than likely he himself started the fight! After throwing snowballs at an 80 year old and causing a whole host of problems, he is brought to the head’s office with his mum and told he will have to be excluded for a short time, at which he starts crying and appearing to attempt to obtain sympathy.  His mum however has none of it, telling him “you are abusive with me at home, so I know what you are like!

Another pupil who others know “gets their head down, and gets on with the teachers” receives a fair amount of bullying, but because he actually has enough and fights back, he has to be punished as he has punched someone. A different pupil is desperate to go to the end of year prom, but their behaviour is so bad they don’t make it!  They freely admit, out of their whole family, they are the only one to “make it to the end of year 11 without being excluded!

As a parent you wonder:-

  • How do children end up like that?
  • What will my child be like when they reach that age?
  • How will the children at their school treat my child?

I often look back to my school years, (even more so when I walk past my old schools!) and remember things, I only ever had 2 detentions, both were really stupid!

  • One was straight after a lesson in the lunch break- the english teacher told us to find 10 words which we couldn’t spell and on a friday we would do a spelling test on them, as i can spell, I picked random words out of a dictionary, my mistake was picking “Onomatopoeia” (Means a word which makes the sound it describes like “woof” or “miaow”)
  • The second was because I failed to hand my work in on time, i agreed to hand it in by 9am the next day and did so, but the teacher still told me I had to “stay for 15 mins”  which ended up 30 because she spent too long talking to another student!

The only other incident I can think of was when we had to write a poem about  a toy, I picked Donald Duck and wrote “his nose looks like a peg, and he is funny when he gets into a smeg” Considering it was a common phrase on “Red Dwarf” describing a “smeghead”, I didn’t think much of it (believing it to be a reference to him getting angry, although I was aware of its other meaning) but apparently that was more offensive than another poem which used “F***”?!

There once was one young person. that a lot of youth leaders were not happy with.  Not knowing much about them, I wondered what all the fuss was about and believed that they should be given a chance, it was a few years later, that I had to try and teach a small group that they were part of and then I realised what “all the fuss was about”, they were a nightmare!  The young person was quite intelligent and got bored easily, whatever people tried to do they were disruptive!

The problem with only seeing people a few hours a day or less, is that you may judge them as “naughty” but you don’t always get the full story.  More and more children/young adults are being diagnosed with conditions from ADHD to Autism, Bipolar to dyslexia.  It is tempting to wonder if certain conditions are covering up simply bad behaviour, but I know of enough children to realise this is not always the case!

Even outside influences can affect behaviour, an adult who has a urine infection can act really strange as their body is fighting with the “poison” in its system!  Some primary schools have started visiting the parents of the children who are about to start school, apparently to introduce their class teacher, but no doubt seeing the “home environment” is helpful in understanding where the child is “coming from”!

Last nights episode included a boy who had a close family member die, his behaviour became appalling and some teachers were having problems dealing with him! There is often at least one family at a church, who some members of the congregation with think are not well disciplined as they let their children run about and make noise during the service! I was actually paranoid about people thinking that about mine so at the slightest hint of noise, i took them out of the hall and kept them quiet so that they were not  a distraction!  Most people think my kids are well-behaved so it has worked, but I still need to shush them and tell them to be quiet when someone is praying!

So before you judge someone/a family, think

  • “is there a reason for this behaviour?”
  • “do they need help?”
  • “is the best option, to remove them from engaging with their peers?”
  • “can we let certain things slide?”
  • “are they doing any harm or is it just certain people being too judgemental?”

Remember that Jesus came for the sick and needy not for the people who thought that they had “life sorted!”