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Melbourne, VIC, Australia
2nd Grade Teacher at a school in Melbourne, Australia. My job: push kids to think. My passion: helping kids to tackle the life-long skill of searching for meaning, skills, answers and more questions.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Bullying looks like this

The first part of this post is an idea borrowed from somewhere in the blogosphere. 
I'd love to give credit to whoever it was that first used this idea - alas I can't remember and can't find it.
If it's someone in my PLN who then reads this, please let me know and I'll credit you.

We start with a plain old piece of A4 paper.  This one happens to have my adapted Wonderopolis review sheet printed on it. (Wonderopolis is RAD in case you didn't know that already)  The paper is clean, unfolded, neat and tidy.  That's our feelings about ourselves and others when we begin our conscious lives.

 Soon the paper begins to ripple a little.  Each harsh word spoken to us creates mini folds.  Every fight with a sibling where things get a little too personal.  Every mean thing said hiding behind the innocence of youth.

All these can be pretty well straightened out.  The important part is that people are also helping us every day to feel good about ourselves.  There are straighteners as well as folders.  Thank God for the straighteners.

 Sometimes, the folders can gang up.  Maybe even for a day.  Maybe you did something stupid or unkind yourself and you face a pack of angry teenagers who do what teens do best - attack in a bunch.  This can be that day when you feel like there can be no tomorrow.  But it's a one-off.  It's horrible, but not repeated.

 This can be straightened, perhaps with the aide of a few apologies, but it leaves a few scars.  Scars that seem huge today, but less significant tomorrow.  Everyone has wrinkles... right?

 If people are too personal with their attacks, we take those thoughts home with us and continue the attack in front of our own mirrors.  We look at that fault deeply and that's where the slight tear in the fabric comes in.  Incidentally, when taking these photos for this blog post, I wasn't anticipating tears to appear here.  They happened naturally.  Serendipitous.

 The scars remain.  Some of them forgotten by a friendly word the next day.  Some of them take time or never quite heal.  But we're strong beasts with pretty resilient brains.  We all deal with our scars in different ways.  The best way to heal our scars is to help someone else heal theirs.  Try it.

 Now for the bullying part.  My 10yr old kidlets couldn't quite grasp what bullying really meant.  They are blessed to not know what this means.  I tried a bunch of ways to explain it, but couldn't really find the visual they needed.  Then it occurred to me.  Bullying is repeated action or word.  Bullying is targetting the same fragile point in our psyche.  Bullying builds deep scars and self-doubt.  Bullying makes us feel like we are powerless.  I began to fold a line in the page.

 Then I folded the page the other way - along the original line.  Scraping my thumbnail along the page to create a scar on both sides of the page in the same place.  The bully is making a deep impression and my helplessness is making the problem worse.

 Back over to fold the same line... again and again.

 And there it is.  That line you see in the middle.  That can't be straightened with any amount of apology.  That line in the middle is the most fragile part of the paper.  It's been folded by the bully and refolded by myself at home - staring in the mirror and wondering what's wrong with me.  It is a fissure waiting to happen.  Without help, the following is inevitable.....

They 'got it'.  The class was quiet.  Only an unfortunate few really knew the experience and the feelings I was describing.  Those kids were very quiet.  The happy, popular, healthy, privileged many were empathising... with a piece of paper.

What's bullying?

  For the many who don't experience it, this quick experiment makes sense.

How can we know and what can we do to help someone who feels this damaged?

That's another blog post entirely!

1 comment:

Bruce Ferrington said...

I'm stealing this idea! Thanks big man.