Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?
I don’t remember their name or exactly what they said but I remember the intent behind those words and that has stuck with me ever since then. They were my head of year at my second secondary school, so this is about nine or ten years ago. The reason I remember them is because of their none too helpful advice that if I had less strange interests and made more of an effort with my peers then maybe they would like me more.
Their words did not have the intended effect, they had the opposite effect. Instead of resulting in me willing to compromise and to change the things I liked, it made me determined not to. If people don’t like you for who you are, then is what it is. I would rather someone not like me for who I am than for them to like me for something I’m pretending to be.
The advice was useless anyway, did it not occur to them that maybe my peers would see through any attempt of mine to pretend to be one of them? And what kind of message is that to send to children, if you have an unpopular opinion change it so that you fit in, make yourselves fit in with the crowd, never go against the grain. Would the world not be boring if everybody did that, if no-one ever dared to do things differently?
By telling me that I’m the one with the problem, that I needed to change, is that not legitimizing the bullies point of view? It tells you a lot about a school when their response to someone being bullied is not to deal with that but to tell their target that they need to make themselves less of a target.