Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to go inside people’s heads – to see what they are thinking, how they are thinking, what makes them tick, what makes them alive. I guess you could say it’s some kind of twisted curiosity or maybe it’s to do with power? Knowledge is power, and the more I know, the better (I believe) life can be. If we all knew everything, we would make better decisions. We can also understand more. With more knowledge comes better understanding.
I’ve always wanted to understand actions and consequences. My first question is always: Why. I ask why when I am not supposed to. People think I pry and I have no respect for their privacy. I guess it could seem that way. But really, I just want to know so I can better myself for next time, and maybe, if I know why, I can then help others in the same situation. I thought of studying psychology, but I am a teacher – and it’s better this way.
Because I love looking at children and find out what motivates them and then find all kinds of strategies to get to them. If you show me a child who is impossible to teach, I get fired up and will obsess about how I could get them to learn. Because I believe, everyone can do anything, if we only find a way to get to them. How can we get to them? We analyze them, ask them, figure out their thought processes, their motivations, their coping mechanisms etc. I do realize though, that we can never know anybody 100%. It’s impossible, but somehow, I like pushing boundaries. This is why I love teaching so much, because I can experiment with various ways to deal with these students and various ways to help them understand.
Students aside, I also often obsess about why people do what they do and how did they come about to do it. There was a time, many years ago, when I would read biographies of teenage killers, you know, the ones that go around school shooting people. It amazed me that the papers never ask the question of “why.” They call it a tragedy and they articulate their surprise and shock. But why? I always wondered: what happened in their lives to lead them to make such a choice? Something must have happened. Some event. Some memory. People don’t just wake up one day and take a gun to shoot somebody. People don’t just wake up on one day and jump off a bridge. I want to know why and if we start knowing and understanding we can then help people through it. We can see the signs, we can predict patterns etc. We can get to the root of the problem before it’s too late.
In Germany, I checked out the museums to death. I tried going to concentration camps, and I read as many stories as I could. How did they survive? What were they thinking? What made them so strong? And Hitler? How did he become like this? What was going on in his head?
As a teenager I was fascinated by two books: Anne Frank’s Diary and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Anne Frank showed me what it was really like to be in the middle of that war. It allowed me to go into her head and I could truly understand why she did what she did and why she felt the way she felt. Crime and Punishment opened up for me a whole new world of “getting into people’s heads.” I loved Roskolnikov. I was amazed by his personality, his thoughts that I could somehow… rather… felt like there are reasons why people do what they do. No matter how evil, no matter how disgusting. It’s not so black and white. We condemn people so often without really asking why, without delving into the real reasons why they do what they do. Nobody is born bad. Not even Hitler. They grow up bad, they are moulded to become bad by their circumstances, choices and environment.
With that motto, that everyone is inherently good, I dive into my teaching. Every student can learn, we just have to try and understand how they learn. If one way doesn’t work, try another. If a child does not learn it is because the teacher has not done enough to try and understand them.
Chris Martin is a head I would love to get into. I want to know why he writes what he writes, what he is thinking when he writes them and his thought processes. I’m not so much interested in Chris Martin, the person, as I am in his artistry, his creativity, his brain. It’s almost like an obsession that’s quite sad really. Because I know I can’t ever get into his head… so I listen to Coldplay over and over again, and watch his interviews, read his biography and try to analyze him as much as I can. It’s fun.
And as a last note…
Dear reader, I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested.