Friendship, Teachers, Politicians, Countries and Professional Wrestling

What is Friendship?
It would be a rare teacher indeed who didn’t want to be friendly with their students. You learn, usually during your first few years, although some teachers never do, that to be an effective teacher you can be your students friend up to and only up to that moment when it starts to get in the way of your job. It took me about 2 years to learn that friendship had to come after teaching and discipline not in front of it.

Friendship is not a means by which you teach it is a result of good teaching, fairness, listening, observing, consistency in discipline and two-way respect in the classroom. If either party fails to respect the rights and strengths of the other friendship as a learning tool is doomed to failure.
Friendship does not mean doing things for each other although that is often a part of friendship. Friendship means accepting what others have to do and how they do it. You may give guidance, material aid, support, and instructions to your friends but you can’t choose their personal course or steer the boat as it either floats down the river of life or struggles constantly up-stream against the current.  Often being a friend means preparing to throw the flotation device when the currents of life run too swiftly, hauling them out, drying them off and then hanging up the flotation device within easy reach.

In reality friendship can be described as fair thoughtful compromise where both parties take something away from each encounter without pumping their fists or hanging their heads. Friends may indeed beat each other but they don’t beat each other up as that is not part of what friendship is about, and that makes  all the difference.
This rule seems to hold in business and politics as well hence the friction between union/ management and Democrats/ Republicans, who apparently have bought into the idea that every idea has a winner and a loser and nothing in between. It also carries over into international relations where most importantly one country and another as Rodney King might ask “can’t we all get along.” It seems to me that too many  have forgotten what it takes to be a friend to each other and now often view all relationships as an adversarial, winner take all, championship sports competition. Ties are no longer allowed even when in reality they would often be quite appropriate.  Someone, now, always have to win or lose no matter what the situation an  attitude that is profoundly contrary to what I grew up with.
The media buys into this attitude with headlines like the one I saw last week that said Boehner “Caves” to Obama. Does the media believe that the word compromised is now unusable like other “forbidden” words? Could the media help “steer” our politicians towards good fair solutions rather than absolutes by using less inflammatory words that infer someone is better or someone lost? Or is it simply in the media’s best “short term” interests to keep the fires burning.  Making this then not a  matter of bias but a matter of selfish self-interest.  Can you imagine the whole different tone of the ongoing situation had the headline simply said, “Boehner agrees with Obama .”  Which word choice would tend to lead to more public acceptance of whatever happened and future compromise.

Conflict makes good headlines and divisive headlines  contribute heavily to our current headlong slide backwards towards tribalism, i.e. your not from my tribe so your ideas are bad, hateful and or anti-religion, as well as being  either  wrong or more commonly, “stupid.”

Incidentally if the dispute over payroll taxes had gone the other way the headline would have been different only in its form as “Obama” caves would serve equally well to fan the flames of partisanship.

If our elected federal employees refuse to act in a forward thinking  fair and judicious manner it is time for them to find a job in professional wrestling where their intelligence, verbosity,  and people skills may be more easily appreciated.


About safrisri

I was a school teacher until retirement. I have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. Now I'm the guy sitting on the porch with an opinion on everything.
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2 Responses to Friendship, Teachers, Politicians, Countries and Professional Wrestling

  1. Mina says:

    The first statement my mentor told education major student interns was “Teachers are not your students’ friends, so don’t be friends with your students.”

    I remember being confused and a bit upset because my experience (though not much) has taught me that the main focus should NOT be on whether or not we develop friendships with our students but rather if we know how to achieve a balance in the student-teacher relationships.

    During my internship, there seemed to be this teacher fear of being “friends” with students, and I have to admit I do not understand it. How can teachers understand what students need academically if we do not condone student-teacher friendships? How can students trust or confine in us if we do not attempt to become their friends? Teachers are required to build trust with their students.

    However, I do agree with you that friendship between students and teachers should not obstruct the educational process. This is also what I mean by “balancing” these relationships. If no harm results and both parties gain benefits from this friendship, why not?

    Thank you for sharing! I love this topic because I think many teachers may sometimes be confused (including myself) about defining a definite role educators should play in students’ lives. I absolutely adore my occupation. The learning never ends~ 🙂

    • safrisri says:

      One of the strangest things I have discovered is what happens when you go on facebook as a retired teacher. The kids you made an impression on will find you and you will hear different sides of many stories that you were a part of . Last night a student of mine from 1985 whom I have not seen since 1985 wanted to have a discussion about the poem “The Hollow Men” by TS Eliot. She reminded me that we had discussed that poem in an 8th grade classroom over 25 years ago and she had made an interpretive painting about it that still hung on her parents wall. Why we discussed “The Hollow Men” I dont really know because I was a math teacher then but I re-read the poem last night and remembered how it had made the kids think on so many levels. It is at times difficult being a teacher and making decisions about where that friendship line is. Even kids who don’t like you at first will like you at the end even if you have to enforce a discipline on them if both of you know where the other one is and respect that difference. Thanks for you kind comments.

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