I recently saw the French movie Entre les murs, (The Class), 2008, which depicted a teacher that taught French to a group of racially diverse high school students in France. Most of the teachers were well meaning but seemed to be dealing with a lot of antiquated institutional policies that unfortunately seemed to miss the boat when connecting with the students. (“Maybe we should have a point system and take away points for bad behavior” was one idea at a recent staff meeting). While the French teacher was no Erin Gruwell he did have a way of reaching the students that the others did not.
Toward the end of the movie, the teacher got into a heated discussion on the playground with the students in trying to define what made them different as teens, from him as an adult, in terms of respect and using certain words that had different meanings to the age groups. While trying to understand better himself, ultimately he wasn’t able to completely bridge the large gaps that existed between teacher/student. It was a good lesson in seeing how behaviors have domino effects and while we might not have all the answers ourselves, we can still work to make a difference in small ways.