A teacher’s words have the power to make or break

Sound off: I was advised not to become a teacher as I ‘did not look like one’

Mary Lucey: The power of positivity and encouragement is miraculous

Mary Lucey: The power of positivity and encouragement is miraculous

 

Mary Lucey on … the power of a teacher’s words

In school, I was advised not to pursue a career in teaching as “I did not look like a teacher”. I still remember how deflated I felt and as a result was determined to become a teacher and never make a student of mine feel inadequate. To this day, I do not know what a teacher is supposed to look like, nor should it matter. What does matter is that a teacher has the ability and interest to instil a self-belief and self-confidence in their students, so they can develop into the best possible person they can be. They may not be successful the first time round, and may have to work harder and longer to achieve success, but with the right support, they can achieve their desired goals.

It is unnerving to consider the potential impact – both positive and negative – a teacher’s words can have on a student. A female student who wishes to pursue a career in computer games development may be told to consider nursing, “a more suitable career for a woman”; a male student, who wishes to pursue a career in early childcare education, may be asked “is he sure he wants to spend all day with small children?” Such words can sway the choices of individuals and cast doubts on their own personal career preferences.

Imagine the result if the female was encouraged to study and work in the gaming sector, which is almost totally male-dominated? She would be a role model for other potential female games developers. If the male was encouraged to follow his preferred career, he too would be a very positive role model for young children. Students should be encouraged and supported to follow their dreams and passions when it comes to career choices with the support of their teachers. The power of positivity and encouragement is miraculous. It can result in the transformation of doubtful students to empowered individuals.

Mary Lucey is the principal of Kerry College of Further Education, Tralee.

Do you have something you’d like to Sound Off about? Email 300 words to magazine@irishtimes.com with Sound Off in the subject line

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