Does labelling students limit their potential?

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I have been reading a booklet recently about ‘Inclusions’ and ‘Diversity’ for educational settings, and came across the following paragraph:

‘…We often find many professionals and parents speak about the danger of ‘labelling’ children and young people…’

This particular article was about providing support for children with special educational needs, but it got me thinking…do I label students as ‘disruptive’, ‘lively’, ‘disengaged’, ‘clever’ and so on? Sadly, this was the case when I started my teaching practice, often reinforced by the opinions of other colleagues not just about individual students but also about the entire class.

I have also experienced this from the perspective of a parent regarding my children’s achievement/successes at school as they progressed. ‘Your son is such and such…’ ‘your daughter excels at this but…’. In fact, the expectations placed upon them from school nearly broke my daughter. I used the SEJ Process  then to dissolve my own beliefs about the label I had put on her so she can shine on her own terms. I was NOT going to put any limitations on her. Why would I do that?

I had to take a hard look at myself as an educator as well as a parent about the limiting labels which I have placed upon the students/children. They are all unique, talented, inspiring young people with tremendous potential. Just because I have spent a few weeks with them does not qualify me to label them or make a ‘judgement’ about their full potential.

I applied the SEJ on any and every label I became aware of including such debilitating ones like ‘The students who fail are not engaged in their studies’, ‘They are not interested in my subject’, ‘So-and-so is not clever enough to pass’: one by one I applied the SEJ process. The SEJ breaks the pattern of limiting mindset and the cycle of unconscious labelling that I had believed to be true.

I can now see them for who they truly are young, eager to learn and enthusiastic, open- minded people. My teaching practice and HOW I connect with each person has changed fundamentally since I studied the SEJ process.  I could feel my own heart open and see them for real, enabling me to have a heart centred approach with each one of them instead of seeing them through the filter of limiting ‘labels’. I have never looked back since and I invite you to do the same…why not take a look at the SEJ Education page and explore how your teaching practice can be made richer and inclusive when you practice the SEJ Process.

Dr M Howard-Kishi

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