February 15, 2016
Teachers Talk - Save Their Minds!
Paula Marshall, Teacher, Crawford Adventist Academy, Willowdale, ON

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” Moncaster.com
My heart aches as I see ‘him,’ an adolescent with great potential, smarts, looks, and affection, but with a dark past that he answers to on a daily basis.  He is undeserving of the conflicts he has witnessed, but it is his reality and a part of his life forever. Unfortunately, he carries the weight of his trauma almost everywhere, not letting go of the grip on his baggage.  It’s comfortable to him.  It’s familiar to him. It’s ugly to him, but it is him.
What do I do with a student who fits this mould when I have 22 other students who have their own issues? Often times, I wish that I could be some sort of ‘counselling octopus,’ helping them all on a one-to-one, deep and personal level, but that’s next to impossible in the regular classroom setting. Kushandsizdom states, “When you focus on problems, you’ll have more problems.  When you focus on possibilities, you’ll have more opportunities.” But telling my students this quote of hope in a classroom setting doesn’t always penetrate their walls of acceptance due to a variety of distractions, pride, peers, and so on. However, telling this to them in a private session can create many open doors, big and small, that may help them thrive and get beyond their past. To be more holistic in our schools, counsellors are very necessary, especially in this day and age.
The world of counselling is an entity of compassion, honesty, and freedom.  It’s a world that can help release and recreate. It can encourage our students to “wear your tragedies as armour, not shackles” (author unknown). There is a lot of power in this statement because everything that Satan has used to harm us can be used for our own good, but perspective, acceptance, and obedience are necessary ingredients to make that happen. A student who has been given that ‘permission’ to see and to use that insight to his/her advantage will thrive, but one has to be guided. I strongly believe a lot of this can be communicated through counselling.
One problem, though, stems from the fact that there is an unfortunate negative stigma attached to counselling. Those who view it as an ‘invasion of privacy’ or ‘the revelation of family secrets’ are depriving themselves from the possibility of restorative healing.  Healing does not only entail the physical, but many people have hurt emotions that need to be addressed, and God has blessed various people with the talent and compassion to help when someone is hurting in this way.  Jesus had to counsel His disciples when they had disputes, when He taught citizens about forgiveness, when He helped others to ‘pick up the pieces’ after tragedy struck.  There is power in words and there is power in talking things through, layer after layer, until the root is revealed, just like a splinter.  As you dig deeper and painstakingly deeper into the different layers of flesh, the reward is great when you actually get to the base of the splinter, it is finally removed, and the pain is gone, although not necessarily forgotten. But it no longer torments your life.
I passionately want this restorative healing to be provided for our students.  The world is getting more and more corrupt, and we have to prepare our future adults to be fully armed and ready. Carrying the weight of the past, and going into this scary future is a setup for a setback.
As Christians, we all have to be ready for these perilous times; spiritually, physically, and mentally. We focus much on the spiritual and physical, but we are sometimes afraid to handle the emotional. Our students will one day be our trailblazers, our leaders, and the people who will be helping others see God.  “Sometimes you don’t realize the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release” (author unknown). But “Hallelujah!” if our schools can play more of an integral part of that freeing experience. Let’s equip them holistically so that God’s work on earth can be done in an excellent way.  Let us attack the mental and emotional traumas that trouble our students. Let us save their minds!
“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise!” Jeremiah 17:14