In December 2010 just before the end of the school term I read my medical records for the period from 1969 and 1970. I had always believed that I had missed six months of school at the age of fourteen due to being a school phobic but what I found was that on 1st January 1970 the term ‘ unsocial childhood truancy’ was given for my behaviour.
On 6 February 1970 a letter went from a child Psychologist to my GP described me as ‘a quiet and fairly neatly dressed girl, who was unable to describe her feelings in depth’ It continued ‘My feeling is that it is extremely unlikely that we can help her much here’
My question is Why, was I supposed to know? I was a child, life had become strange and surely it was this guy’s job to help me find out why I felt the way that I did! Instead, he told my GP that I was likely to end up as an inpatient in a new adolescent unit at the local psychiatric hospital!!
I didn’t, I went back to school a few weeks later and muddled through with the help of my wonderful form teacher and stayed to do my ‘A’ levels which I failed miserably having missed essential bits of school.
Nearly forty years later I created AERO.
I didn’t know why I was what I had been told was a school phobic and that whole experience of not knowing had affected how I saw life and what I ended up doing with it. Along the way I have met hundreds of other people equally struggling to understand things about themselves, but given very little to help them. Instead they, like I was, were ‘labelled’ and for some this label got stuck for life. I was much luckier than some. No one except me, my family and who I chose to tell knew that I once had a label and it didn’t affect me getting jobs [as far as I know!!], having my own family and leading an interesting life, but the point is, that it could have …… and that really is a crucial point.
One of the central ingredients in AERO and very much ‘the flour’ is creating a feeling of Openness, that sense of being able to talk freely and without any labels or if they exist to consider what they truly mean. Nothing is right or wrong, only actions have consequences.
I would love to have been encouraged to talk freely to teachers at school. I loved school, but was also frightened of it, but no one helped me find out why and how I could defeat or control that fear and laugh at it, thus letting it dissolve into a corner of my head and life experience.
My journey led me to return to the place I had once feared, school and to start working with children who were seen as good, bad or most of the time practically invisible. Not because the staff wanted them to be like this, as often they felt themselves but because the structures had created this anomaly where learning set information had begun to inhibit enquiring minds, where bad behaviour drains the time and energy of many teachers and where school takes on many of the tasks that parents should do.