YOUTH: Sure, if I were to run around chasing after a ball together with my students, they might like me more. It might make a good impression on them and give them a feeling of closeness. But if I come down to the level of being a friend to those kids, educating them will be even harder. Sad to say, those children are not angels. They’re little demons who, the second I go the slightest bit easy on them, will take advantage of me and get too big for their britches, and then they’ll be totally out of control. You’re frolicking about in a fantasy with angels who don’t even exist in this world! PHILOSOPHER: I brought up two children myself. And there are many young people who come to this study for counselling who weren’t able to adapt to school education. As you say, children are not angels. They are human beings. However, precisely because they are human beings, one must pay them the highest level of respect. One does not look down at them, and neither does one look up at them or flatter them. One interacts with them as equals and has empathy for their interests and concerns. YOUTH: I’m sorry but that reason for paying them respect doesn’t sit right with me. Basically, what you mean by respecting them is just stroking their egos, right? That’s exactly the sort of idea that is degrading to children.
    PHILOSOPHER: It seems that you understand only half of what I have been talking about. I am not seeking a one-way respect from you. Rather, I want you to teach respect to your students.
    YOUTH: To teach them respect?
    PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. By way of your own personal practice of it, show what it is to have respect. Show the way to build the respect that is the cornerstone of an interpersonal relationship and get them to see what a respect-based relationship can be. As Adler tells us, ‘Cowardice is contagious. And courage is contagious, too.’ Naturally, respect also becomes contagious.
    YOUTH: Courage and respect are contagious?
    PHILOSOPHER: Yes. It begins with you. Even if there is no one who understands or supports you, first you must carry the torch, and show courage and show respect. Your torch will brighten only a few metres around you at most. It might seem like you’re on a lonesome night road, all on your own. But the light you carry will reach the eyes of someone hundreds of metres away. They will know then that a person is there, a light is there and a path is there, if they go to it. Eventually, dozens and then hundreds of lights will gather around you. Lights radiated by dozens and hundreds of your comrades. YOUTH: What kind of allegory is that? I’m guessing what you’re saying is this: the role that we educators are assigned is to respect the children, show them what respect is and get them to learn respect. Have I got that right?
    PHILOSOPHER: Yes. That is where the first step lies, not only in education, but in all manner of interpersonal relationships.
    YOUTH: No way, I don’t care how many children you’ve raised or how many people you’ve given counselling to here, because you’re a philosopher who’s been shut up in his study. You don’t know a thing about society or school in the real, modern-day world! Look, what people want from school education, and what people want in capitalist society, is not this stuff about personal character, or some obscure ‘human knowledge’ or whatever. Parents and guardians, and society, are looking for real results. And if you’re talking about the place where education happens, then the thing we’re looking for is scholastic improvement.
    PHILOSOPHER: Yes, I suppose so. YOUTH: No matter how much their students might like them, educators who don’t raise scholastic achievement will be branded as unfit to be teachers. It sounds just like a money-losing venture made up of a group of friends. And on the other hand, the educator who contributes to scholastic improvement with all his students completely under his thumb will be showered with acclaim. But we haven’t even got to the main issue, yet. Even the students who have been thoroughly and continuously rebuked will later say, ‘Thank you very much for coaching me so rigorously back then,’ and convey their gratitude. They recognise that it is because of the strict treatment that they kept up their studies and that my strictness was really a ‘loving whip’, as it were, and they go so far as to thank me. How can you explain this reality?
    PHILOSOPHER: Naturally, I would say that such a story is quite possible. Actually, one might even regard it as a perfect case model for re-learning the theories of Adlerian psychology.
    YOUTH: Oh, so you are saying it is explainable?
    PHILOSOPHER: Keeping in mind the discussion we engaged in three years ago, let us enter into a slightly deeper place within Adlerian psychology. There are many realisations to be had therein. ‘Social feeling’—a key concept of Adlerian psychology, and the most difficult one to grasp. The philosopher speaks of it as ‘seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another’. And that it requires the skill called empathy, the first step of which is to have concern for other people’s concerns. It made sense, in theory. But was it the educator’s job to become someone who truly understands children? Wasn’t that just the philosopher playing with language again? The youth glared pointedly at this philosopher who could bring up such words as ‘re-learning’.
    Wadifa Club
    writer and blogger, founder of Dog food planet .

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