There is construction going on in the plot of land next to our classrooms now. It is a source of endless fascination for myself and the kids. Over the last month, we watched it go from a gaping hole in the earth to a 1.5 storey apartment. At the time of writing, it seemed like they were moving on to building the second storey. There is something so intriguing about being able to look inside of things that we see every day. Appliances, vehicles, houses. We often don't think twice about how they work, and we probably haven't considered how heating or gas pipes are laid in a house.
One morning a kid was the first to arrive in class, and we stood, as per routine, next to the window to check in on how the workers are doing. She surveyed the progress so far, then turned to me and said, “my mom told me that if I did not study hard, I will end up doing that kind of job and will get scolded and shouted at...” She was only 6 years old. I think went through the 5 stages of grief in about 10 seconds. I asked her to imagine what the world might look like without workers like them to build our infrastructure. (I didn't actually use the word infrastructure) She said then we would have to build our own houses. I reminded her how important they were, how tirelessly they worked (as we had witnessed in the week) through the relentless summer heat and even rain. I added that building a house was a special skill, which made their jobs really important. There wasn't enough time to unpack everything before the rest of the students came, and this became something I carried and will carry around possibly for the rest of my life.
We all carry a lot of personal histories and learned behaviours. Kids do the same too. It was easy to judge my student for the very problematic things she said, but really, she was only repeating what she was told. I'm sure this is not the only time I will hear something like that either. I see only the thinnest slice of their lives in my weekly (sometimes one-off) classes with the kids. There is way more to unpack than what I have the capacity for. But I acknowledge the only aspect of their lives I can control is how we interact and hold space for each other in class.
I think at the end of the day if there is only one thing I can 'teach', it is this:
This was harder to write than all the broadcasts prior but as always, thank you for tuning in this month. Please look after one another!
This month’s play-list: