With-holding truth

How many single parent families are there in your country? Perhaps the number depends how liberal and permissive your country is. In places where single parent families are commonplace, perhaps couples that experience breakdowns in their relationships are nonplussed about splitting up even if they have children. In countries where this is more of a social stigma, such couples would perhaps think twice about breaking up, choosing instead to stay unhappily married for their children. After all, it cannot be easy for the children. Children who grow up in single parent families experience many problems, such as each adult criticising the other in the other’s absence, being shuffled around to different surroundings because of adults having to work out access arrangements. It is also awkward having to spend time around twice as many adults if both parents have partners.

In Japan, a mother whose child had been in a single parent family (ie only with her) noted how much the emotional impact was taking on her. The father had left when the child was little and had made no form of contact ever since. The girl became more and more withdrawn as she got older and also suffered anxiety when she was in the company of her peers, not just because culturally single-parent families are frowned upon, but also because her peers knowingly and unknowingly made remarks that made her feel small. Eventually the mother took matters into her own hands in an unusual way. She approached an escort agency and hired an actor to play the part of a father for an extended period of time. Most actors are hired on a one-off basis, but this “father” continued the role to the point where the daughter actually believed that he is her father!

Is it ethical to tell such a white lie? You may debate this forever but there will always be two sides to this. In another case-study, one involving the classical musician Ludwig van Beethoven, it was believed that one of his famous works, Fur Elise, was written for a girl called Elise – yet Beethoven was also involved with another lady called Therese, who ended up with the score Fur Elise. (You can read more about this from the Piano Lessons N8 website.) One of Beethoven’s biographers blamed it on his dyslexia and bad handwriting, while you may point to it being a case of distorting the evidence to suit a belief.

Is it ever ethical to manipulate the truth? There’s a thought to ponder.

Considering Teaching

When you were in school, you might have been a good student. You might have eagerly soaked up the knowledge that your teachers dispensed to you. You might have been a model student like Fanny Hensel (whom you can read about from the Piano Teacher N8 website). But you might have found that while you respected teachers for their academic knowledge, perhaps they were more inspiring on a different level. The same goes for if you were classed as what is a problem student, or a bit of a creative rebel (like the composer Igor Stravinsky). You might have had difficulty with trying, turning in homework on time, and focus in class lessons. You might have found lessons and the acquisition of knowledge boring. But in both cases you might have found teachers inspiring outside the classroom, not for what they thought but for who they were. It might have been the Maths teacher who did marathons and raised money for charities such as Children’s Relief. It might have been the PE teacher who volunteered time to help students with homework. Or it may even have been the office staff, or someone that did not teach your class, who was inspiring for the fact that they showed that they cared. Maybe you witnessed them helping a student who had got hurt, or taking time to chat with someone who had problems. Maybe it was the way they carried themselves and got on with things despite have their own known problems in their family, like a parent with cancer or a child with a disability, and never got disheartened. Your teachers inspired you.

Some individuals were inspired by their teachers to become teachers. And according to a BBC report, there are certain countries in the world where being a teacher ranks as being one of the best jobs in life. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the country of China, where teachers are heavily respected by students. Why is this so? One might speculate that in a country of over one billion people, competition for jobs is strong and education is a key towards higher paying jobs, and a way away from the labour jobs which pay little and are often under exploitative conditions. In China and the Far East, there is a bit more respect for teachers and this also stems partly from the fact the way Asian society is.

A teacher can also exert a great degree of influence in shaping your direction and knowledge. If you are in one-to-one situations, a teacher can explain the subject matter more clearly, and if you encounter difficulty, he or she can provide the skills you need to navigate difficulty, as well as share your experiences and how you are feeling. For example, if you are starting piano lessons, you may find it difficult at the start, but the teacher can tell you it is pretty normal and how you are feeling is not new to anyone. This will inspire you to work through your difficulty – one of the aims of a teacher – and become a self-directed learner.