5 July 2016

Bullying in Education is a Thing

If you didn't already know, today is 'Stand Up to Bullying' day, and this morning my television has been bombarded with celebrities supporting the campaign. Some celebrities have been telling their bullying stories; most of which have consisted of another student bullying them during their time at school. I understand that this is a horrible time because similar to these people, I too was bullied throughout my time in high school and I absolutely hated it. 

However, I feel like this is the only type of bullying we try to make people more aware of. When I mention the word 'bullying' to an older generation they think of someone stealing your money in the school yard. When I mention bullying to a younger generation they think of cyber bullying and someone causing you to seriously hate yourself or not wanting to go to school. I think it's amazing that we are being made more aware of how to spot the signs of it and encouraging younger people to speak up if they are being made to feel worthless by someone who is probably insecure in themselves. 

Although these are the main types of bullying, there is something that is being hidden away and less publicised. Another type of bullying can occur in the educational field, and although it is less common, it is something I have experienced countless times and I think we should be made more aware of it. This type of bullying is when a teacher actually bullies one of their students. 

My Experience
I have heard about worse cases of this bullying but I can only share with you my experience. Before I even begin to explain what happened to me, I want to make it clear that everything is now sorted and I am happier in myself now. 

So I think we all know that I pretty much loathed my first couple of months at University because I wasn't happy with the course I had chosen. It wasn't necessarily the course I wasn't happy with but one of the lectures who was supposed to be supporting and guiding me through the first year. I studied Drama and Creative Writing as a combined degree and ended up quitting the drama aspect due to a teacher who made me feel pathetic and worthless. 

When you first start University, it's like starting a completely new school. You know absolutely no one, apart from maybe a few people who you've found doing your course on one of the group pages on Facebook. Generally, you just want to be able to fit in, make friends and for everyone to like you. I'd started off pretty well, I got on with all of my flatmates, I'd made a few friends on the Creative Writing side of the course and I just couldn't wait to get back up on stage. 

My first drama session with this particular lecturer was a complete shock to the system. I was so used to the drama staff being so lovely and supportive but he was nothing of the sort. He was the type of guy who would scream at people if they couldn't manage to cry properly on stage, he used to make you do things over and over again until you got it to the standard he wanted even though he could see that you were trying your hardest for him. I understand that this seems like tough love, pushing us to be the best we can be, and of course some directors are this horrible. I think looking back it could have been his way to get us used to the industry. 

When it came to my turn to perform, I got told various times from him that I was 'shit' and he even asked 'Why the fuck are you on this course?'. This completely knocked my confidence straight away which resulted in me not volunteering for things and speaking when I was spoken too. This aggravated him further as he wasn't particularly fond of his quieter students. When he used to tell me that I was 'shit' and that I couldn't act, I just used to feel the whole class looking at me and laughing. In one session, I did something wrong and he called me 'gormless' doing an impression of me to the class and making everyone laugh at me. I then became known as the weird girl who no one asked to go anywhere or wanted to be friends with. I was also told that I had terrible skin, due to the fact I never wore make-up to these intense drama sessions as it was just sweated off anyway.

I would come out of his sessions every week, ring my Mum and just cry down the phone to her. I feel awful for doing this now because  she must have felt so helpless. I'm in Liverpool crying my eyes out and she's at home and there's nothing she could do. The final straw for me was when he said to me, for the umpteenth time, 'Why the fuck are you even on this course?' and I just thought to myself 'I don't actually know'. I wasn't happy and I used to dread waking up on a Thursday because I knew I'd have to go and sit in a room with him for 4 hours, being shouted at and told I was shit. 

I decided to quit drama, and was extremely pleased when the University allowed me to do so. This meant that I lost contact with the few friends that I made on the drama course but I think I was all cried out at this point. I couldn't give any more time to that department or that course. Quitting was extremely hard for me because I'm never normally a quitter, and more than anything I felt like I had let my old drama teachers down. We all had a really close relationship with them and managed to keep in contact at University. It's only since going back and performing for them last week that I realised I didn't let them down at all. 

When I quit, I had to give a reason as to why. After a bit of a talking too from my Mum, I told the head of the department everything that had occurred and they told me to rest assured that they would sort something. I had quit at this point so I don't know if anything ever did get sorted but from what people in that class told me, he became a little softer and a lot nicer. At least I changed something for them and hopefully future students. 

I never really considered what he was doing as bullying because I'd experienced much worse in my time. But looking back it was a form of bullying, and yes it did occur in a teaching environment. The thing that really made me realise this is something my Mum said to me. She said that University is a place for all ages to learn, and this guy wouldn't have spoken to a 60 year old lady like that, so he had no right to speak to me like that which encouraged me to speak up and get something changed. 

I know this blog post was probably a lot to read but I definitely think this is something we need to be made more aware of. Teacher/Student bullying is a thing that occurs on so many teaching platforms across the country and around the world, but it's something that just seems to be shoved to the side. It is by no means acceptable and definitely not something that should be allowed in schools. If you're being bullied by a teacher then you need to speak up, because you can't be made to be feeling worthless in a place where you go to learn. They have no right at all to speak to you in that manner; they should treat you with as much respect as you have for them. It works both ways. 

We need to stand up for all types of bullying! 

Lots of Love
Meg
xox










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