Children and Champions

I don’t watch a lot of TED talks – but there is one that I really like. It is called ‘Every Child Needs A Champion’, and I find it really inspiring. It was made by a wonderful teacher who has now left this world called Rita Piearson.

It is here, if you want to watch it….. Every child needs a champion
I watch this often, and it reminds me of why I do what I do.

Not so long ago, I found myself standing up for a particular child. This little person has really given her teachers the run-around, apparently. She isn’t very pleasant in other classes. I don’t teach her very often, but she has always been lovely for me. She is a musical little soul – she sings beautifully, and has always really responded to music in class. Whenever she sees me she greets me by name, and smiles, and sometimes even gives me a hug. I like her a lot. I appreciate that she can be trouble, and she has a mouth on her – but, actually, I don’t see that. I see a basically decent kid.

I wanted her to participate in some classes I was taking, and the powers-that-be in her school said no. She hadn’t behaved in some other classes, and so they were going to use no music classes as a punishment. But I work for a charity who try and engage kids just like her. So I stood up for her.

Well, I was told I was being manipulated. I was wrong. I was being taken for a ride. That she would disappoint me. That she was no good. Other teachers got angry with me. In fact, a few got really angry with me.

I had to talk to a few trusted souls, people whom I respect, to check that I was doing the right thing. Was I really being manipulated by this child? Should I give her a go? (I don’t know about you, but if enough people tell me I am doing the wrong thing, I’ll at least think about it…..) But deep down something told me I should put my neck on the chopping block for this kid. And my trusted friends agreed with my inner voice.

So I got shouted at, and told that I was doing the wrong thing some more. I trod on toes, and had heads shaken at me in disbelief. I was told I was a fool.

But she was in my classes, and she participated. And she had a good time. She performed with me – and even smiled. She was polite, and helpful.

My heart breaks for this little person who as blown all her chances where she is. She’s a good kid. In fact, sometimes she’s a lovely kid.

But I found it hard sticking up for her.
But I’d do it again.
And again.
She was worth it.


  1. It is so sad that the educators were so set to punish the child instead of asking why does the child act the way she does and what is it about music that has the child behaving? Maybe realizing you could reach the child and they could not was the bigger problem. When I was student teaching I used to work with a child who acted out with most teachers, but worked hard for me. No one could understand why. To me it was because I treated her fairly and believed in her talents. I wasn't caught up in that she was a difficult child and needed punishing. She was such a joy to work with and I enjoyed developing ways to stretch her brain. Every child deserves a chance to shine.

  2. Rachel, good on you! I would like to so one step further and ask the question “so what if you were being manipulated"? You (and the school) had nothing to lose and everything to gain by making another attempt at showing this little girl that she is more than worth it.

    You reminded me of an incredible talk given by Cornel West
    in which he reminds us of the importance of never judging someone based on the experience of them in a particular moment. Everyone has the ability to change for the better!
    It makes me sad to think that these teachers who, without a doubt, became teachers for all the right reasons have become so disillusioned. So disconnected that they can no longer do what the set out to do: to go to work every day and teach indiscriminately. We can only hope that they can also change…

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