Teacher Training
The women who informed my study often asked, "Just what do they teach you in Teachers' College?" Their guesses, when I turned the question back to them, were not far from the truth. In the same way that we are horrified to learn how few lectures in nutrition students of medicine are required to take, my students reacted in shock when we talked about specific training given to teacher trainees in dealing with "real life ugliness." We are, as a profession, moving in this direction and my study group helped push us a bit farther. They prepared a tape for me to use at a professional development program which was well received by my peers. But we are a small group. Such training is not a pre-requisite of a diploma nor is it available to every practicing teacher. Not all are ready to hear the content; some are judgmental and only too happy to continue to blame the victim.

Clearly, the
solution must
begin with
courses in

Clearly, the solution must begin with mandatory courses in teacher education. As one student told me, "It's like everything else; if it isn't compulsory it doesn't seem . . important." The speaker of these words chose to call herself "Invaded" for purposes of this work. She had felt unimportant at home and at school, and now feels strongly that often "the wrong people go into teaching."

Fran Thoburn

Our discussion resulted in the recommendation that intense screening of applicants and frequent evaluation of graduates include a process for understanding the value teachers place on children's pain. While recognizing that academics are the primary focus of the teacher's job, Tammy insisted that she could not learn academics from any teacher who didn't first and foremost care about her as a person. The group agreed. All of them had been labelled drop-outs in the school system. None felt consistently valued by staff and all saw escaping from school as a way of escaping to a better world.

Carrie over-achieved, feeling appreciated and safe only when she was perfect. Tammy under-achieved, so frightened was she of all the powerful people in her world. Jenna simply faded away--a bright but hurting child who could not find the crack in any teacher's door to welcome her back after tragedy struck. Jody and Invaded acted out their anger and felt a collective sigh of relief from their school's personnel when the door closed behind them.

It is clear that hurt children behave in a variety of ways. My students also understand that teachers are overloaded with curriculum and duties required of their work. There was, in fact, little blaming of teachers who were "just doing their jobs." The overwhelming message is, however, that these women would have benefited as children if our jobs had been different. In the same way that the Personal Life Management course began with the acknowledgment of violence in the students' lives, we recommend that teacher training also begin with this recognition.

Each piece of a child's learning should be assessed from a hurting child's point of view; every opportunity should be given to students of any age to find a voice, to be a person. In order to enable a teacher to analyze material and lessons in this way, childcare counsellors and experienced social workers should be part of every staff. The reality is that every child hurts at some time; too many children hurt most of the time. The "hurting child" assumption helps us all.

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