«First – love, then – learn…” – John Amos Comenius.
I have been working at Step Up as a maths and IT teacher for more than 10 years – and for about half of that time I have also been deputy director. A whole range of students comes to us – each with their own unique experiences, characters and stories. To understand what is needed and to find an individual approach is always fascinating.
As a general rule, people arrive with concrete aims: they want to learn to write and count correctly, or to prepare for certain exams. They rarely appreciate that in order to realise these aims they will have to invest a huge amount of time and effort in self-development leading to external and internal changes and changes in those around them. You have to accept your students for who they are: understand their talents and abilities and show them what they are capable of and what they could be. It’s work for real teachers.
There are a lot of us and we are very different: students, teachers, volunteers and guests. Step Up draws people from different social categories, different ages, different levels of education – and we grow and change together. We need to ensure that our efforts serve as a foundation for the emergence of the best human qualities: love, support, understanding and acceptance. Nurturing the ability to feel is immensely difficult, but immensely rewarding work.
The results of what we do are real people – people with different opportunities, successful and not very successful, with their own joys and disappointments. Their achievements may often be modest, but the journey on which they have embarked evokes respect and our work is the stimulus for their development. One is never ashamed.