So, what’s your ‘line’.

We all have a line – between what we are comfortable talking about with pupils and what we’re not. I realised long ago, my line is quite a long way passed most peoples – I’m happy to answer any and all intelligent, curious and genuine questions relating to the usually ’embarrasing or taboo’ topics such as sexuality, literal meanings of expletives, body modification, social attitudes etc. There’s very little that I find embarrassing and as long as there’s a genuine interest (and no just a work avoidance tactic) in play I’m happy to answer. If I feel I’m being ‘hazed’ I generally say I’ll tell you that if you like, but come back at break time and we’ll discuss it. That sorts out the real inquiries (and I have actually had some kids come back at break time. My philosophy is that it’s better that I give them a mature, dispassionate explanation than they get a half-truth from a friend or they google it. I realised long ago I’m far more open than a lot of teachers – and it works for me far better than any other approach because I came to teaching from informal youth work and my skills in dealing with young people grew that way.

However – I do have a line. Objective questions are fine, factual discussion is not a problem.  My line comes with the personal. I don’t mind discussing my cats, where I went to school and what I watch on TV or what music I like.  They all know I live with my best friend (which from a teenage perspective is pretty awesome) , am not married and don’t have any children. I’ll even tell them how old I am if they ask (although usually I make them guess first). So what don’t I tell them?  There’s one big thing I’ll never tell them (and would lie to avoid admitting)  – I will avoid at all costs answering the question “Miss are you gay?”

So what about everybody else? Where do you draw the line?


2 thoughts on “So, what’s your ‘line’.

  1. Completley with you on this one. Kids suffer from a lack of open discussion. Of course i can answer the gay question easily. I have however seen some openly gay teachers do very well. My sex life is where my line is. I know what you mean about come back at break. Works every time.

  2. I’m generally very open. My kids know I’m married, they know how old I am, and they know I’ll answer pretty much any question. However, there are topics that I will avoid or not give my opinion on unless directly asked.

    Thinking back on today, for example, where I announced to my lunchtime club that Margaret Thatcher was dead there came the inevitable discussion. What do people think of her? Why do they think that? What’s she famous for? (Some of them are only 12), then after it had become clear that views were polarised in the room anyway there came the inevitable question – “What do you think of her, miss?” I know what I think of her, and I know that there are members of staff in my school that have gladly given their uncensored opinion of her, but I just couldn’t do it. My response was “She was a divisive politician who caused strong feelings on both sides of the political aisle. I personally would agree with pupil A but to make up your own mind you need to look into your history and decide for yourself” (Just to be clear, Pupil A was vehemently opposed to Thatcher).

    I don’t like giving my opinion on things. Fact and truth I can cope with fine – they are solid. The opinion side is more difficult to negotiate. Kids are shaped by ideas, and many are at impressionable ages, and as much as I think my views are right and well thought out, I also don’t want to impose them or shut down a child’s genuine questions because they assume I will dislike/be annoyed/condemn a different opinion.

    I suppose we shall see if that changes when I finally get the debate society up and running next year. But for now, that’s my line.

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