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Bullying through lack of connection; through the self-fulfilling prophecy –

“this boy is not academic”. I proved that, my parents expected and accepted that, as I did.

I wrote to private school headmasters and interviewed them personally:

“I am writing to give you a glimpse at something you no doubt have knowledge of but from my personal experience.

What am I wanting you to do with my personal experience at a private school, over all my years from start to year10 is recognise that a very deep start to bullying is that from teachers, expecting one to underperform and then that becoming self-fulfilling, their believing that, me believing them, my parents believing them and seeing the proof in my performance.”

I asked the Principles, “This a significant challenge everywhere, so I am hoping you might allow me to share this in personal way with either your leadership team or staff generally.”
(I presented this document to the top 5 colleges in Adelaide and all said “overlooking a slow learner or a disconnected learner would never happen today – this is the Principles saying, “its not a problem any more”! This is me saying this is the beginning of self-depreciation – an opening for bulling – self bullying and external bullying.

There is plenty or press and awareness of the sexual predatory behaviour of people who have authority or sway and influence over young people but the subject I am canvassing here gets somewhat lost & can still be very devastating. Long term impact “I am not smart, I cannot learn”.

I attended an independent non catholic school from 1953 – 1963/4 leaving at 15 years of age, at the end of 2nd year to enter employment as I had managed to achieve probably the least impact of any student on the school and it on a student – me.

Reason for email – bullying and abuse come in all different sorts and sizes of packages. Mine was centred on the universal lack of care, across all classes after about grade 3, for anyone who fell in the middle to bottom of achievers.

I left school with a pronounced stammer and a self-esteem based on the proof given to me by teachers and the school system through time that I was either dumb, lazy or in some other way imperfect.

My self-doubt, lack of confidence maybe even self -loathing was further enforced by the PE  teacher. His contribution to my esteem and fear of most sports for too long, he castigated me as a little ‘ poofter’ for falling to the ground crying at age about 7, for catching a cricket ball on the tip of my middle finger. I was not allowed to come to cricket again.

It took me only about six weeks on leaving school to actually make the discovery that I in fact had some value. I enrolled in night school, skipped a grade, went into the equivalent to matriculation and finished in the top five of the year! The organisation I joined was Woolworths. I became the youngest manager ever and to this day, to my knowledge there has been no other younger than I was. My stutter almost disappeared in that first 4 to 6 weeks. It still reoccurs slightly if I am tired or discussing something passionate – which are a lot of topics.

Bullying and abuse come in all sorts of packaging, these were how they came to me. My parents sent me and my brother to the same school, my sister to MLC. They didn’t know to come to the school and get better service for me, they just accepted that I wasn’t very bright. That didn’t do loads for their acceptance of me and me of me!

The teachers and lack of leadership at my school in my case were seriously flawed.

I find myself counselling friends and clients when the subjectof children progress (or even behaviour) at school comes up. Inevitably when they make clear to the school what they see, something changes. Too often it seems to get past the teachers, the system.

               People live up to or down to expectations and that is self-fulfilling. 

Why am I telling you this – there have been numerous stories about numerous schools re the sexual exploitation and bullying, but bullying is usually seen as physical or psychological between students, yes also parents and yes teachers and any mix of that you can consider.

I was bullied through inaction; through people responsible for my life’s learning, much more than RRR, life’s learning of my-self-worth, failed me. Good people caught up in their own exhaustion and subjective judgements. Yes, some who should never have been invited into teaching and others who should have been exited after appropriate mentoring had not been successful to find a pathway to me.

Bullying will be happening between staff, parents to staff, children to children, staff to children, academic and administrative / grounds. It will be happening and if you really believe it is not, then you will be missing a giant opportunity and, failing the children and others who are being caught up in it.

(That as a sentence from the original email to ‘my school’)

I wrote, “My comments are sincere and truthful. What you choose to do with them is up to you of course. As the leader you have a huge responsibility to help all the influencers at your school to find ways to connect, encourage, support and expect of every single child and within the staff of themselves. Huge responsibility, people lives. Maybe my story will help?” Not a single school took up my invitation.

“What you do with this now is the key. Yes, addressing the past BUT, very much looking at the here and now. Happy to come and chat.”

Every school Principle said, “children do not fall between the gaps anymore”.

Similarly, following on from successful interventions in serious cases of bullying in government departments, the heads of two big departments said there was no bullying in their departments with their HR managers present; their policies and procedures prevented that.

Bullying is present in many forms – when people are depreciated they seek to depreciate others.

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