Young people are rebellious. Hot-headed. Insubordinate. Secondary school teachers have especially a difficult time dealing with adolescents. Universities are sometimes over-powered by angry youth during riots. They have their demands. They want freedom.

We could never deny the challenges the youth bring into educational institutions. However, one crucial matter that is sometimes overlooked, especially in Kenya, is the kind of influence the teachers have on their students.

It doesn’t matter if one is a secondary teacher, a university lecturer, a home teacher, a trainer, all those in a position to educate young people from the teenage years to adulthood play a very crucial role. They spend most of the time with the youth. They are the ones who get to spot when one is going astray, hanging out with the wrong group, or slacking around.  They are the ones to notice when a child is being discriminated against or picked on or depressed. They are the ones who either become role models to the youth or crush them entirely according to how they deal with them.

The youth are fragile. They are still trying to contemplate what life is all about. They are still shaping their identities. Yet how many times do we see educators being the nightmare to the youth? How many times have we seen educators call students failures or give them embarrassing nicknames or harass them or call out on them for their looks or tribe or their body weight? How many times have we seen educators abuse the youth; emotionally, physically, mentally? How many times have university students failed their exams because they refused to be sexually manipulated by their lecturers? How many youths have been scarred permanently by their educators?

There is this intriguing and thought-provoking story about the Solomon Islands which is in the South Pacific Ocean. The people in the village use quite a unique way of logging; ‘yelling and felling’. So how this goes is that whenever the villagers want to cut down a huge, thick tree, they’d curse and yell at the tree powerfully for thirty days. After this period, the tree surrenders and dies. The villagers believe this method has always worked. When the villagers curse, their whole intent to break the tree’s spirit is so strong that they successfully make it die. While there is no scientific validity to this story, it should make us ponder. Think about this: how powerful are words then that they are able to kill a tree? And if it can kill a tree, what about the spirit of a human that is filled with hopes, dreams, goals, and fears? (The story of Solomon Islands was first mentioned in Bruce H. Lipton’s ‘The Biology of Life’. Read more at https://www.newsgram.com/power-of-words-the-story-of-the-solomon-islands/)

Without a doubt, teaching is a very noble profession. These are the individuals who make us grow and strive for greatness. They are the ones who push us to dream and explore. We could never downplay their very important role in our lives. Yet sometimes, these are the same people who bring us down entirely. Make us detest ourselves. Make us hate the idea of seeking education and want to drop out entirely.

It is indeed high time that our educators, whether in institutions or even in workplaces, are properly evaluated and properly trained on how to deal with human beings using diplomacy rather than abuse. The young people, from teenage years to pre-adulthood are like clay that is still being molded. The clay is in their hands. They have the power to shape it into something extra-ordinary or over-water it till becomes lifeless dirty water.

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As you may have noticed, the above does apply to parents as well because they too are educators; the most important ones! It can also apply to each one of us and how we interact with other human beings, sometimes very carelessly. May we always be conscious of how we talk and deal with other people. Ameen.

To every teacher doing their job whole-heartedly and striving to make a difference, however small, we salute you and appreciate you!

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Author

A freelance writer, journalist, poet and blogger venturing mainly in social and community issues, study and analysis of behaviour and life, and the plight of the under-dogs in the society. 'I feed on human stories.'

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