Is name or title important in education?

Recently I met a couple of people who have decided to change their names. One of these people is close to me and someone asked how I felt about it. At first, I felt a little uncomfortable with their decision but once I put the thoughts such as ‘Why are they doing that?’ ‘Don’t they like the name that was given?’ through the SEJ process I soon found peace and acceptance. In fact, I thought how freed and empowered they must be feeling. The reasons why they changed their names are not relevant here, but this got me thinking about the ‘importance of names’ that we perceive.

Names give us identity and if we are in certain professions we also have ‘titles’ such as ‘Sir/ Lady’ ‘Dr/Professor’ ‘Lord/Lady’ etc and we often get blinded by these titles and names. These titles can also build an invisible ‘barrier’ between people. Someone that I once worked with thought that I came from a ‘posh’ family as I have double barrelled surname (through marriage)! Although it may seem odd, this type of perception is not uncommon. Also, many people shorten or use their middle names for different reasons often because they prefer that rather than their given first name.

Then we have what are called ‘pet names’ such as ‘love, dear, sweetie, darling’ etc. Our children did not like being called by these endearments from school dinner ladies or office staff. They said, ‘we have names!’ Often when children are young being addressed correctly by their name is important to them.  So, it’s not just in the name itself but the meaning and value we put on them that matters, or the lack of. We often don’t see the person, judging /projecting our blinkered perception even before we meet them from their titles and names.  If we do this with names what else do we judge them by??

We may have taught someone of the same name as a new pupil in front of us, but we believe this particular name means they behave in a certain way.  We may notice some common names amongst the register and make assumptions about these groups of students to be in particular way merely based on their surnames before we have even met them for real.

The SEJ process dissolves these limiting beliefs we have about another whether names or achievements, status, or their ability. It enables us to receive them as their real True authentic selves in that moment. I used to have a belief about using my title but after I put that thought through the SEJ process, I now have an open connection with students, and the classroom is much more inclusive and enriching for everyone. When we do that, we can truly ‘educate’ pupils and students because we can see their full potential and possibilities inherent within them. Why not learn the SEJ Process and see what other barriers you can dissolve so you too can experience them in their true nature?

In the film in ‘Dead Poets Society’, the main character says, “Now in this class you can either call me Mr. Keating, or if you’re slightly more daring, O Captain my Captain.” How would you like to be called?

Dr M Howard-Kishi

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