A pastoral past

It’s been a very long time since I wrote anything new here, which is probably no coincidence when I take into consideration my new role as a Guidance Leader combined with the expectations of a mini-Cave on the way!

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I’ve really enjoyed my new role as a Guidance Leader, and it has certainly ​put a new perspective on my teaching. The one word thats’ meaning has deepened in the last few months is “respect”. One of my biggest hopes for students is that they understand what that word means- both for themselves and for those they interact with. Sadly they’re not taught what it means often enough in the world around them, and without the wisdom that comes from this word, their quality of life will most likely be affected.

But my focus upon this concept has also led me to realise how much my teaching focuses upon when people don’t understand what respect is. In almost every topic I’m teaching at the moment, I’m teaching about tragedies, injustices and discrimination. My KS3 students are studying the inequality of the slave trade and how money and a belief in white superiority caused untold sorrow for millions. My GCSE students are looking at the way that white US settlers abused the human rights of the Plains Indians in the name of ‘Manifest Destiny’, whilst my own personal reading of ‘Bury my heart at Wounded Knee’ has only added to the depths of these injustices. AS students studying black civil rights in the 1950s & 60s only demonstrate the power of Jim Crow, public opinion and the difficulties of gaining racial equality in America. A2 students looking at Germany from 1890 study multiple events where the mistakes of their leaders led to bitterness, brokenness and betrayal.

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All of these historical topics show the dangers of not respecting the rights of all men and women. It inevitably leads me to think of the famous phrase by George Santayana that “those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it”. The idea of using the past to teach important life and social skills for the world today means that little bit more to me now I’m involved in the pastoral side of school life. Although it gives me less time for the history side too sadly!

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