Life at school can be tough.
I was talking with one of the lads that I coach at cricket. He can be annoying, often deliberately winding up the other kids. He’s very bright, has few if any real friends and gets picked on. A lot.
His parents are separated and he lives with his mum. She has been battling breast cancer and is going blind. None of the other kids at school are aware of this.
A group of boys in the year below follow him home from school every day kicking his ankles and calling him names. Every day. He gets very angry but (mainly) manages to ignore them. Inevitably, when people poke and prod and tease you for a reaction, well, sometimes they get a reaction. They wouldn’t do it otherwise.
We talked about what adults these boys might turn into when (if?) they grow up. If I’m being honest, we weren’t particularly kind in our assessment, but I think it made him feel better.
My son (12) is rather quiet when out of the house. He is very good at drawing, and seems to be as polite and considerate as we would hope he would be. Other parents talk of him being a delight to have over (none of this applies when he is at home, of course!).
He was telling me about walking home from school and an elderly lady saw him approaching. She visibly clutched her handbag tighter and scuttled past him. Whether that lady’s impression of young people was garnered from real experience or reading the Daily Mail I don’t know, but it made my son feel rather sad to be judged in this way.
When you get older you can, to an extent, choose who you spend your time with, but not at school. A school is a place where everyone gets thrown together, the quiet kids with the bullies, the sporty with the clever. And everyone is judged by the actions of the idiots.
Much like our profession.
There are plenty of people in our profession that do things I don’t like. There are bullies, dodgy advisers, loud shouty ego driven CEOs. There are people who seem to feel it is their job to poke and tease, to take the opposite position on every issue seemingly for the sake of winding people up. Kicking their ankles.
But there are plenty of really great people doing really great things. There are also advisers who would like to do what they do better but are not sure how to go about doing so.
I agree that bad practice should be named and shamed. I’ve been guilty of such negativity in the past (and can’t promise I won’t again in the future!).
But let’s also make sure we shine a light on good practice. Let’s highlight, loud and proud, the very best of what we do, so that others can see those headlines and can follow the example. Not telling, not showing off, not so much “My way is the best way” as “This has worked for me, you might be interested.”
Down with negativity! It’s easy to moan, to show up what is wrong, but it’s a lot harder to offer a solution. And it’s certainly easy to be in a gang kicking the heels of the ones who are different.
So let’s make 2016 the year of shining a light on good practice, of sharing good ideas, and in that way set an example for others to follow.