It’s sad being a teacher in a low socioeconomic area. I guess you might have some ideas of how it goes from movies, except it’s worse in real life. I’ve taught in richer areas before and moving to this area was a big shock. I got a transfer and thought I’d be doing a good thing by helping out the kids in this place where most parents are unemployed, abusing substances, or generally not around. I saw myself as contributing a positive influence to the kids’ lives at such a supple age, making a difference in the world, you know? But I never realised just how challenging it would truly be.
I know that what I’m about to bring up may sound like a trivial point, but this is just an example of how acute social disadvantage is in this neighborhood in Australia. Our school cannot even afford school name tags. Our school cannot afford anything. While other schools have got their interactive whiteboards and a tablet for every pupil, ours school doesn’t have enough stationery or even badges for the student representative council. I think the name tags are a particularly poignant example of social disadvantage, because rewarding young people for taking initiative and leadership roles goes a long way to helping their self-esteem and setting them up for the future. Without any recognition for their achievements, without rewards for hard work, they’ll grow up as disillusioned and embittered as their parents, preferring self-destruction to self-betterment.
I’ve put a lot into this school myself. I don’t intend to sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet here or trying to play the white knight, but when I see the lack of resources that get funneled into this school and this area, I just have to put my hands into my own pocket. That’s why I’m ordering magnetic name tags in Australia and setting up a reward system to inspire the kids to achieve, teaching them that with hard work does comes rewards.