Having based my career in education, and The FH also the same, we are hardened to the antics of the youth. Or so we like to think. But still there are things that shock us. Things that have broken our hearts. Things we never forget, can't put behind us.
Between us, we've worked in the worst schools in the area. We've been told to "fuck off" a thousand times. Spent hours and hours helping one child and the next week watched them self-destruct. We've watched children die, written their eulogies, picked up their broken friends and realised we couldn't put them back together.
We've filled them with false dreams; we've tried to lift their spirits and we've tried to beat them down, just so they will survive the day. We've inspired and changed lives and we've felt the sting in our faces of hitting a brick wall. We've been hated, we've had formal complaints and, at different times, we’ve both just wanted to stop.
And I did. I walked away. I don't yet know if I'll ever go back. I walked into a bubble of love and nourishment, a place where I can control the outcome. Where I can watch my own children grow, make cupcakes and play dough, sing nursery rhymes, play pirates and make sure every day they feel loved and are happy.
My last post bulleted a day of supply teaching. Whatever I put up with in the classroom, most of those kids were going home to worse. It's usually the ones who are loved that sit quietly.
Seven years ago I was placed in a school where Year 9 boys were pimping Year 9 girls. Yes, PIMPING! Not to their peers, to grown men. That stays with me now, like a gritty detective programme that set out to shock and disturb. But it was real. I saw those faces, watched those girls leave the school, and prayed we could lock them in, keep them safe.
Where are those girls now? What will happen to their children? Will David Cameron's 'Big Society' help them? Because his failing schools and redundant teachers certainly won't.
The next generation… bred with skin of steel, encasing emotions that they don't understand, unafraid of anything. What will pain mean to them? Death is already just a word, 'To kill', a verb, a doing word - an action, not a consequence. And the question that frightens me the most: who will teach them the verbs to love, to respect, to dream?