Labelling students needs to have a health warning!

 I wonder who you're believing yourself or another to be today?

What thoughts come to you when you see your reflection, boss, mother, friend...?

Who you believe yourself or them to be today is simply the projection of yesterday.

Give you, give them a chance to be who you and they really are.


Jacqueline Mary Phillips


Why labelling can be a health hazard


I have been reading a booklet about ‘Inclusions’ and ‘Diversity’ for educational settings recently, and came across this paragraph:


‘…We often find many professionals and parents speak about the danger of ‘labelling’ children and young people…’


This particular article was about providing support for children with special educational needs but this got me thinking…do I label students as ‘disruptive’, ‘lively’, ‘disengaged’, ‘clever’ so on and so on. Sadly, this has been the case when I started my teaching practice, often reinforced by the opinions of other colleagues not just about individual students but also about the entire class.


I have also experienced this from the perspective as a parent about my children’s achievement/successes at school as they progressed. ‘Your son is such and such...’ ‘your daughter excels at this but...’. In fact, the expectations placed upon them from school nearly broke my daughter. I used the SEJ then to break my own beliefs about the label I had put on her so she can shine on her own terms. I was NOT going to put any limitations on her why would I do that?


Change of heart


I had to have a hard look at myself as an educator about the limiting labels which I had placed upon the students I meet. They are all unique, talented inspiring young people with tremendous talents. Just because I have spent a few weeks with them does not qualify me to label them or make a ‘judgement’ about their potential. I applied the SEJ on any and every label I became aware of including such debilitating ones like ‘The students who fail are not engaged in their studies’. One by one I went through the SEJ process. The SEJ breaks the pattern of mindset and cycle of unconscious labelling that I had believed to be true.


I can now see them for who they truly are: young, eager to learn and enthusiastic, open minded people. I could feel my own heart open and see them for real, enabling me to have a heart centred approach with each one of them.


My teaching practice and HOW I connect and teach with each person has changed fundamentally since I studied the SEJ.


Dr M Howard-Kishi

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