Picture the scene – A warm summer’s evening at the infamous, end-of-year ‘School Production’. Disaster strikes! The multicoloured coat (a quintessential ingredient for this particular play) is missing! It is needed on stage in approximately fifteen minutes and I am given the task of retrieving said item – off I set, a man on a mission.
I enter the classroom where all the outfits have been laid out. I am met by two children from my class, a boy and a girl. Immediately I ask the girl if she knows where to find the coat. The girl is extremely ‘bright’ and helpful; in fact she is labelled as ‘gifted and talented.’ She searches the classroom for a couple of minutes and when I ask if she has found the coat she confirms my worst fears, regretfully informing me that it can’t be found anywhere.
I then turn to the boy who is labelled Special Educational Needs (SEN). I ask if he knows where the coat is but before he can reply the little girl innocently interjects – and what she said has haunted me since. Her polite reply was… “If I Don’t Know – He Won’t!”
It is clear that both pupils were abundantly aware of the implications of the labels that we, as educators, had attached to them. Perhaps even more significantly, I also asked myself; why did I ask the girl first? Was this an insight into my own subconscious thinking or merely chance? The answered saddened me.
This day was five years ago and it was a turning point in our thinking about pedagogy. Needless to say, we have learned our lesson!
The Thought Weavers