When sweeping under the carpet just won’t do

We must make sure we’re there for our family, friends and those close to us in times when sweeping under the carpet just won’t do.

This is not limited to day-to-day learning, but also to much more difficult and sensitive themes that we ought to speak about with young people.
This is not limited to day-to-day learning, but also to much more difficult and sensitive themes that we ought to speak about with young people.

Engaging students is a most difficult task for any teacher. It is not easy to get young people excited about something, it never was and still is not. However, the use of contemporary events or happenings to blend with an educational process is an interesting teaching strategy. Take, for example, the World Cup. It could be used for many things in a classroom, such as geography, history or even deeper lessons such as learning mathematical logic by calculating needed results to pass through a particular group stage. I believe this brings about a correlation effort.

This is not limited to day-to-day learning, but also to much more difficult and sensitive themes that we ought to speak about with young people. Last year, the popular Netflix show ‘13 reasons why’ was centred around the suicide of a 17-year-old. It focused on very sensitive subjects such as rape, cyberbullying and abuse. It must have been very difficult for the producers of the show balancing the very raw subjects at hand and the sensitivity, and fragility of its audience which invariably included young people. In the second season of the show even more precaution was taken with constant reach-out-for-help material being advertised throughout, including discussion with the actors in the series.

On social media this series received a lot of attention from young people. It did not win plaudits from everyone, but the raw subject did not deter young people from seeing it and opening a dialogue. Much effort has gone to make sure the outcomes of such television are ultimately positive, and do not fuel any negative perceptions that young people might have. In Malta, we consider some subjects to be a bit of a taboo. But dialogue and communication, even if the subject material is difficult, should not be closed down. In a day and age where young people seem to be locked in their digital worlds, we must do our best as adults to constantly reach out in the real world. As parents, educators and adults it is important that we constantly work on bridging this gap.

Such dialogue and openness should not be reserved for young people. It was courageous for one of the best footballers in the world, Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta, to discuss difficult moments and his battle with depression. The 34-year-old is the latest name in the world of football to open up about such challenges, giving strength to many others in the shadows. The sudden death of a close friend was difficult for Iniesta and it took courage for him to confront this in such a public manner.

“You feel that it’s not you, that you don’t enjoy things, that the people around you are just people. You have no feelings or passion,” Iniesta told an interviewer.

“You end up feeling empty inside and there is a moment that you realise that you cannot take it anymore. When you need help, you have to look for it: at times it’s necessary. People are specialists; that’s what they’re there for. You have to use them” he added.

“There are moments when your mind is very vulnerable. You feel a lot of doubts. Every person is different, every case. What I’m trying to explain is that you can go from being in good shape to being in a bad way very quickly.”

These everyday challenges affect each and every one of us, even a World Cup champion. Such words from Iniesta are invaluable to break down barriers and start a conversation about these themes. In schools, we must do the same and not be afraid to be a bridge where needed. Parents, family members and friends also play an important role in lending an ear or a helping hand.

We must make sure we’re there for our family, friends and those close to us in times when sweeping under the carpet just won’t do.

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