A teacher from Australia is suing her government for over $400,000 for loss of earnings and permanent disability to her larynx (voice box), according to recent news reports from around the world.
The alleged cause of this disability?
Having to raise her voice to a classroom of rowdy children, in order to keep control of them.
A significant number of the children had special needs ranging from cardiac and diabetic issues, to autism and Aspergerís syndrome.
Now, Iíve never been an advocate of raising your voice to children. I remember it as a child Ė I didnít like it. None of us did. And Iím not saying Iíve never raised my voice on occasion or will never do it again (it always makes me feel incredibly guilty and both my daughter and I feel awful afterwards) but I know itís wrong and that it solves nothing. The issues are always there waiting to rear their ugly head - yet again - until we/I actually resolve the underlying need thatís not being met.
But when an adult (be it a parent or teacher) feels they have to raise their voice to a point where it damages their larynx, even if the children are rowdy, we should all stand up and pay attention.
When a situation like this arises there are so many things to consider;
What support was the teacher given?
According to reports she was not given any additional support although she had asked for it. Despite having many children in the class having additional support needs.
How many children where in the classroom?
There are reports that there were 31 children in the classroom. Most or all of whom had additional support needs.
What were the children telling their parents after a day at school having been yelled at?
Were the children able to tell their parents? And if so, what did their parents do about it?
What action did the other staff members take? (who possibly heard a teacher raise her voice so often/loudly that she could lose her voice.
Was the situation reported to school administration by other staff members and did they ignore it?
Why didnít the teacher - who knew she was having difficulties - take a stand and refuse to take responsibility for an insurmountable task?
There are so many things wrong with this scenario that itís difficult to comprehend.
Whilst the teacher claims to have been adversely affected by this situation, itís clear to me that the people who have suffered most are the children. When children ďact outĒ or are rowdy, they are communicating to us that they are unhappy.
When you have 30+ children in a classroom, special needs or not, then it seems obvious that every childís needs will not be met. Even the best teachers in the world will tell you this. Itís just not possible.
And when a teacher has to shout to be heard, indeed when anyone has to shout to be heard, including the seemingly rowdy children in the classroom, to the point where they lose the use of their voice then there has to be something terribly wrong with the whole education system.
Our children are screaming at us, yes screaming at us, that something has to change in order for them to be happy at school. Maybe this disturbingly sad scenario is a call to action for us all not to rest on our laurels, but to come together as parents, educators and professionals to implement changes that will ensure that our education system doesnít let ANYONE down.