Home' Aurora : Aurora December 2011 Contents 8
| Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle | www.mn.catholic.org.au
"YOU VE GOT TO love them!"
Whenever I am asked, 'How do you
handle the kids at school?', that's my
answer. You start by loving them -- and yes,
it still gets tough after that!
There's a story I enjoy telling the kids
at Easter each year -- in fact I've been
telling it since 1984 when I discovered
it in a newspaper. It's called "The First
Man Christ Died For." It tells the story of
an old man who cares for the village kids
outside the ruins of Jerusalem where in
76AD (some 40 years after Christ's death
on Calvary) the Romans had smashed
the city. The families had little but they
did have 'Old Man' (as they affectionately
called him) who cared for their kids,
told them stories, grew some meagre
vegetables -- and always had time for
them, especially the children. The story
goes on to tell about these strangers who
came to the village seeking to know who
Old Man was. The historians, including
Josephus, wanted to know about the
happenings some 40 years ago -- and to
put a name to this Old Man.
Eventually, he told them, "I am Barabbas
-- the first man Christ died for." Like I said,
I've enjoyed telling the story but it's only
recently that I have realised its impact on
me; I'm now the Old Man! I'm still waiting
for the day when one of my students will
say, "I know why you like that story."
Yep, you've got to love 'em!
It's true that some of the kids we teach
are abusive, selfish, attention seeking,
challenging and demanding of our
patience, understanding and love.
But it is a privileged position that we
teachers have because we are able to get
so close and offer so much to another
We are Jesus people. We do our best to
love, heal, forgive and show compassion
to those to whom we bring the good news
daily. And it's not just the kids! Parents,
grandparents, families and colleagues
figure in all of this too.
Believing in and caring for, affirming
and praising are key elements for
all educators who are
true to their profession.
More than ever, we need
Over the years, one of the
most pleasing changes has
been our way of dealing with
the youngsters. We have moved from a
punitive to a restorative approach and
this has been a very valuable movement.
Restorative Justice can be 'messy' but
with 'affective questioning', you can do
so much more. Getting kids to see who
is affected, how they are affected and
coming up with means to make things
right can cause many genuine tears
and sincere sorrows. Sure, there are
consequences if a student makes the
wrong choice -- and he or she must own
them and work through them.
Teachers have definitely become more
civilised and affirming figures who can
create possibilities for healing ways -- the
kind that Jesus would have wanted.
Another significant change I have noted
is increased time spent counselling --
students, parents and fellow teachers.
We have counsellors who come to our
schools, pastoral workers, parent liaison
persons and outside agencies whom we
are able to contact. We need them all,
their support and wisdom.
As a Student Co-ordinator and
Welfare Carer, I have been given many
opportunities to be involved with camps,
retreats, liturgies, Masses,
performances -- all
and community builders.
Memories of these will stay
with me for a lifetime.
Educating in the 21st
century demands that we develop a better
understanding of modern technology --
contemporary media, computers and
iPhones, Facebook and Twitter -- all
valuable means of communication and
education. But we need to be conscious
also, that too much of 'the small screen'
can lead to the loss of good conversation
and relevant dialogue. Like all things in
life, we need balance.
Curriculum advances have included a
deeper understanding of Indigenous
culture -- taught throughout the curriculum
-- as well as a greater awareness of the
beliefs and practices of world religions.
Knowledge and understanding in both
areas give our children an empathy that
enhances their adult lives.
My philosophy of education highlights
structure and consistency in dealing
with the youngsters; developing a
sense of fairness; a constant dialogue
between student and teacher; variety
in presentation, including storytelling,
meditation and regular opportunities to
touch the spirit within. These have all
been significant elements in helping me
to be a better educator.
At the end of my classroom days I am
able to say, "The beauty of it all is that
we can meet again in five or ten years
to share the memories." At reunions we
teachers can beam a little and be proud
that we played a small role in all of this. I
say 'small' because it is as 'parent' that
we are first educator and nurturer -- and
then, as the emerging adult appears, the
teacher is there to help guide them along
the path. We are all in this together.
Love, trust, respect and praise remain the
key elements in teaching today, as they
did some 40 years ago. The same can
be said about those closest to you. For
without an understanding and loving wife
and family, professional and supportive
fellow colleagues, positive and responsive
pupils -- one could never achieve all that
this teacher once hoped for, or dreamed
Keep loving -- and praising!
and praise 'em!
Pat Beisler has been teaching for 40 years, the last 20 at St Mary's High School Gateshead. Recently he was named one of
Australia's inspirational teachers in the Australia Scholarship Group Inspirational Teaching Awards 2011, fitting recognition
of the impact of his work. As he prepares to retire, Aurora invited him to reflect on 40 years in the classroom.
Students from Pat s Year 10 Religion class (back, l-r) Elliott Collins,
Joshua Beaumont, Lucas Hinton (front) Jessica Hawor th, Siena Napoli.
"We are all in
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