Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Job satisfaction

I sometimes look with envy at the opportunities available to young people nowadays. They have a great deal more to choose from in terms of study, travel and work. 'In my day' we chose a career (or it chose us), studied for the necessary qualifications and then entered a profession for the next 40 years or so. Yes, we had a certain security in our lives but today's youngsters have far more glamorous prospects, or at least that's how it appears to me.

Still finding my way in my retirement, I wonder how things might have been if I had not been brought up with a great sense of duty and responsibility. What if I'd had the courage to simply pack a bag and set off into the unknown? Well, that's the stuff of dreams and I try to be content with enjoying hearing and reading about the adventures of more free-spirited people.

I like to think that I played a small part in enabling and encouraging a few of my students to go out and do exciting things. It was always my aim, especially in my work with deaf youngsters, to make them feel that they could do things, rather than thinking they should feel handicapped by their deafness. So my job satisfacti
on is great when I hear of their achievements.

Oliver, now aged 27 and looking a little different from when I taught him, has just become the first deaf man to walk to the North Pole, raising £24,000 in sponsorship for charity. His mum emailed me to say how proud she was of his many achievements: he has run marathons, 20Ks and taken part in triathlons in London, Stockholm, Brussels, Paris, Lisbon, Warsaw, Prague, New York and Rome; he'll be representing GB in Turkey in September and is a hopeful to represent the British Deaf in the Para- Olympics. Oliver hasn't only had great success in sport, he got a good degree, runs his own web design company and has done voluntary work in Singapore.

The email from proud mum, Sue, also said: I always remember when you first met Oliver and you said that he was special! And so he was; even at 18 months he was obviously an exceptionally intelligent and determined boy. He's already achieved a great deal and I'll have to be satisfied with my small part in that.


  1. What a cute little guy. It's nice that he's accomplished so much of what he wanted to do. So few of us really move away from our comfort zones and into the unknown.

    I didn't teach, but had many college students do work study and summer employment with me. They were great kids and very smart. It surprised me that so many of the girls even in a very selective college with impressive test scores didn't have much self confidence and this in the 70's and 80's, not the 50's when I was in school.

    I was honored that so many of them credited our working together with their decisions to make bold moves. Support, encouragement and enthusiasm are what kids need to think bold thoughts.

  2. Often my hardest task was to persuade parents to allow their children the freedom to try and maybe fail. It would have been so much easier for Oliver's parents to keep him 'safe' at home and I'm sure they worried when he started to go off on his adventures.

  3. Knowing you, M, I suspect you played a very big part indeed in these children's lives - and no surprise that they keep in touch with you.

    Too many people are ready to give us reasons why can't or shouldn't do things; the people who make a difference to this world are those who give us the confidence to believe that we can and should.

  4. m. your comment touches tangentially on our discussion on how we smoothed out life's little bumps for our kids when they were small. Imagine how much harder it would have been to let our kids suffer disappointments and setbacks if they had the added burden of deafness. That's when a trusted teacher, doctor or other less emotionally involved person can make such a big difference.

  5. D, thanks. You know how it is in education - some you win, some you lose but when you have been able to help someone and they recognise your part in their success, it makes it all worthwhile.

  6. You are right, e. They make look like contradictory ideas but we do have to help children to grow in confidence in stages. Smoothing the bumps, as you and I both know, does not mean spoiling children or wrapping them in cottonwool.

    I would try to help parents of deaf children to give their children gradual steps in independence. For example, having walked with the child to the sweet shop many times, pointing out any dangers, practising crossing roads in the proper place etc. they had to let the child go alone. I would advise them to warn the shop assistant and prepare them for any communication difficulties and then to let the child go to the shop, while keeping a discreet distance behind.

    Once the parent was assured that everything was okay they could apply the same strategies to other situations.

  7. Absolutely right. Although it is so much more difficult to deal with our children's trials and tribulations than it is our own.


I love to read your comments and promise that I will reply as soon as I can leave my garden, sewing room or kitchen!