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Part 11: Discriminating Trust

Too often young people feel there is an emotional gap between themselves and the generation that is responsible for their education. This perceived distance prevents the free flow of ideas, and it may cause young people to tune out the voice of wisdom and experience.

They receive mixed messages in childhood about obeying adults in their lives, but also about not trusting them fully. Teachers are told to keep their distance, remain professional, and not become too friendly. Environments that foster relationships, like the lunchroom or the playground, usually have the teachers removed from the students. The result of all this is that students have trouble relating to teachers, and cannot take full advantage of their knowledge, their contacts, their experience, their advice, or other aid.

The ability to distinguish between the person who can be an asset in your life, the one who may be neutral, and the one that may be detrimental is a skill every parent would want their child to learn. But if teachers and students cannot see each other as human beings, the likelihood of this skill developing is slim. Parental directions and warnings alone cannot teach young people how to relate to their elders. They need practice in a setting that fosters a friendly intimacy.

A student who has developed discriminating trust knows how to cultivate a good relationship with adults, and can take advantage of the mentoring abilities of a great teacher. When the opportunity for choice arises, their clarity allows them to choose teachers who are actually interested in their future. Such a student has an easy time getting recommendations and learning about special opportunities. They get the most out of their education because they can extract everything a teacher has to offer. They are also more likely to side-step a bad relationship.

This unusual quality is consciously nurtured at Progressive School. Our graduates report that it stays with them for life. It is mostly developed by:

  • being educated with love
  • learning in a small nurturing environment
  • placing priority on the teacher's personal traits as a role model during hiring
  • having teachers taking an active interest in their activities outside of school
  • having teachers with them for lunch, recess, and other social times

Progressive School of Long Island

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