Acceptance – George Blackwell

June 16, 2020

If I asked you to reflect on your time in school, what would come to mind?

Would it be Year 11 prom? Would it be your first night out with friends when you’ve just turned 18? Or would it be the daft things you got up to at breaks and lunchtimes on the daily as you grew up?

For myself, this is certainly the case. Throughout my time at school I was surrounded by great friends, enjoyed my studies and made lots of extremely positive lifelong memories. However, as I’ve become older and had broader discussion about people’s experience in school, I’ve become aware that this idealistic experience is more than uncommon.

It’s not hard to see the reasons why others had a negative experience in school. Some hated studying. Others couldn’t find a group of friends they ‘clicked’ with. But unfortunately, a huge portion of students were unhappy in school as they had to face being bullied.

Individual cases of bullying are incredibly difficult for schools to manage. Pastoral staff are forced into the role of a detective, trying to decipher the truth of a situation that usually lies somewhere between the different accounts they’ve been given by students. Predictably, it ends up being a case of ‘He said she said’, and the culprit walks away without consequence.

If cases of bullying are so difficult to manage or discipline, what is the solution?

It’s commonly acknowledged the cause of unkind behaviour is rooted in the insecurities of the bully, but personally, I see it being an issue of acceptance. Self-acceptance. Acceptance of peers. Acceptance of our personal circumstances, our upbringing, and the reality of our day to day life. This lack of acceptance usually surfaces in negative behaviours towards others, whether it’s nasty comments, deliberate exclusion or physical abuse.

Seeing the developments of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, which resulted in the Isle of Mans biggest ever peaceful protest, it’s hard to deny the aura of change in the air with regards to our political outlook and moral standards. The big question is how can you instil this kind of acceptance from a younger age, and it not take until your mid to late twenties to see our individual differences as something to be celebrated?

Expecting EVERY student to be kind to one another is beyond perfectionistic, but could it be possible to lay the foundations so the next generation isn’t sceptical of and uncomfortable with people of different ethnicities, religions or sexualities to name just a few? Could a significant part of the education process be to work with students to accept and revel in their own individuality, while not being unkind to others of different backgrounds to themselves?

I’m not saying I have the answers, or that we aren’t heading in the right direction. Just that further reflection and change is needed to work with future generations on setting a better precedent that we have previously.

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