Saturday, 29 November 2014

Why and when you sometimes need to "run like hell"!

A grown-up friend of mine shared this thought with me this week – “People can be divided into two groups, those who divide people into two groups and those who don’t.” 

And his observation made me look at the world around me with a different perspective. On my teacher training course (a Post Graduate Certificate in Education or PGCE) his homily can be rewritten as, “Course members can be divided into two groups, those with one or more parents who were teachers and those that don’t have this advantage.” My Mum and Dad were both working as Head of Science (in different schools) when they were killed and this meant that I was brought up surrounded by the jargon and professional ethics of the teaching profession. I never considered any career other than teaching and in a strange sort of way that worked to my advantage when I was orphaned. 

When my happy and secure world was blown apart I still knew what I wanted to do and what I needed to do to reach my goal. Hiding away under the duvet and not bothering with school work was never really an option that I considered because doing that would have meant that I was letting myself and, more importantly, Mum and Dad down. 

Through all the trauma of emotional, financial and physical abuse that I received from the demon spawn know as my Granddad I had the image of becoming a teacher in my mind and that helped me survive. 

When I started on my PGCE I wasn’t surprised to find that some of the trainee teachers came from teaching families. What did surprise me was the size of this group – far greater than you would get by chance. In the first few weeks of teaching lots of teaching jargon is introduced and you could see the cohort sub-dividing into two groups, pretty much based on their family background. My boy-friend is fiendishly intelligent but he is a first generation teacher and he really struggled for most of the first teaching block because the lecturers used specialist terminology without explaining it properly. It seemed ironic that teacher trainers would do this because it is exactly the opposite of what “proper” teachers would do in their daily work. 

This subdivision into two groups is also something I have noticed in the assorted bereavement groups I have attended over the years. Attendees can be divided into two groups, “those who attend in order to get better and those who attend in order to get worse.” Even the students I meet at the monthly group organised by the university demonstrate this division. Some want to know about survival strategies and they look towards old-timers like me as examples of the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”. Other are content to share their sadness but nothing more – now this is understandable in the early days after a death of a parent but some don’t seem to have moved on in several years and I find that so sad. 

In the adult focussed group this division is even more marked. There will be people who seem to wear their sadness and their mourning almost as a badge of honour and loyalty to their dear departed. Getting better and being able to move on is almost regarded as being disloyal and I have met a few who have never recovered from a death that happened 30+ years ago. The most extreme example I can remember is a lady who was the dominant personality in a Worcestershire based support group. She acted as if she was newly bereaved and it was only later I found out that she had lost her Mother ten years previously when she was 40 and when her Mum was 76! 

If you find yourself in a group like this then in the words of the famous group Pink Floyd you should “Run like Hell”!


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