All over the world organizations dealing with children or youth employ buddy mentors who are basically teachers that students can relate to because of similar background, experiences or age. The students have been observed to form a bond with these mentors, making the teaching process easier and more impactful because the students treat the mentors as friends.
Why then is a friendship between a student and an ordinary teacher in school, stigmatised? Is it impossible to find common interests with someone just because they grade your exams? Is it ‘weird’ to have older friends? If you’re good friends with a teacher, your other friends immediately assume one of the two things – you’re sucking up to get better grades or, if they’re of the opposite gender, you have a crush on the teacher. And from there on, every time you talk to the teacher, you’ll hear snickering or snide comments about it and will be asked hundreds of questions as to why you’d choose to spend your break with a teacher rather than students.
Probably because the teacher’s more intellectually mature.
Teachers are humans, just a few years older. It’s the same as being close to an older cousin or aunt. It’s also a friendship not based on peer or social pressure but on genuine interest. How many of your friendships can you say that about? It also has so many benefits. If something bad happens, you can consult them without worrying that you should probably be talking to an adult. Classes become a lot more fun and entertaining because you know the person beneath the chalk covered hands. You can have mature and meaningful conversations without being called a ‘nerd’ and you can always rely on them for trustworthy advice which wouldn’t consist of suggestions like drinking till you throw up because you just got dumped.
And the best part? You get to know another beautiful human being. Humans, especially those who willingly choose to deal with a bunch of teenagers every day, have got to be unique and interesting.
If you really admire a teacher and want to have a proper conversation with them but haven’t tried it yet because you’re afraid of what your friends will say, forget about that and the next time you see the teacher in the hallway, strike up a conversation. You won’t regret it.
If buddy mentors are okay, what’s wrong with friendly teachers?
[Written by Niyoshi Parekh]