What about the child with something not connected, the ones whose parents won’t diagnose them? A child, who is 14 and cannot read the word “cat” reliably, has something wrong with him. A child, who at 12 cannot spell his own name is anything but “Normal”.
What about the child who sits there quietly, too mentally exhausted from the crap of their lives to do anything other than sit?
What about the kids who are hungry? Did you know their parents haven’t fed them in three days because cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs are more important than a loaf of bread? Did you know that they share a peanut butter sandwich and an apple with their three siblings and that’s a good day?
What about the child who doesn’t have a living relative that gives a shit? The ones we know about are in care but there are others, many others, living with step-parents, sometimes the partner of a step-parent, because they buggered off too.
What about the kids in care? What about them? Why do they get to go back to the fucking dysfunctional situation they were in and allow their biological parents to lie again? “Yes, you can come this weekend,” “oh sorry, I forgot to collect you.” That kid in care always wants them even if their parents don’t.
What about the ones whose needs a school does not meet? They hang at home, watching endless Netflix, living life on a mattress, 3-inch x 4-inch screen their connection to the world.
What about the ones who think the grass is greener? Only to find out that exchanging one parent for the other was not the golden pill to a happier life and that they drag up the maturity to go back to the better one.
What about the ones who would rather be indentured slaves to their parent and step, washing, cooking, collecting siblings at the expense of themselves, turning up late to school each day, getting a message that they have to leave school early to get to the primary school to take their sick sibling home? Taking a beating, taking the uniform detention each day because no one cares enough about them to wash their only uniform or buy them a larger one when they grow, all of it to avoid their other parent, the beating better than the inconsistency of the druggo mother.
What about the student who smokes as a method of stress relief so she doesn’t cut herself anymore? Do you really think she gives a fuck about the three days enforced health nurse anti-smoking program? Maybe she’s the clever one, maybe she knows what works for her?
What about the one whose father can’t afford to keep her, luckily she has an aunt? That aunt has 6 kids of her own and not much by way of a job but a heart that is open enough for one more.
What about the student who works so hard, works so hard because her parents thought they would homeschool her and then never did, causing endless anxiety later on?
What about the child who is the first in her family to get a part-time job, and then the parents demand she works every single shift so that they can take the money off her, depriving her of her income and at the same time, her education?
What about the child who lashes out at a teacher and then bursts into tears, his expected half sibling arrived as a stillbirth and somehow the other parent did not want to deal with it, so sent him to school anyway?
What about the child whose parents lie to her about her brother’s death? He suicided. Don’t lie.
What about the siblings who watch their mother die, their grandfather, two of their aunts and an uncle in the space of six months? Then their father leaves them to go to his other family. To come up with a reason of not suiciding as it’s against their religion.
What about the child who was missing for three days and the mother could not be bothered to report it until the school rang and forced the issue?
What about the child who showered at school, washing their uniform out in the same shower, putting it on wet because he had nothing else to wear?
What about the student pulled out of school to care for her dying mother because the father has to work and there is no one else to help?
What about the stories we never hear of?
You ask me, as a teacher, to educate these students. I ask you how?