“Kids do not learn from people they do not like” or the value of relationship in education

I visited my hometown in Taraz city during my winter break. At the same time, my little sister had finished the second academic term at a public secondary school. She is 6th grade broad-minded, smart and kind student, who is interested in painting, flora, fauna and astronomy.

However, we had a big drama before the New Year, as my lovely sister took “C” from the subject “Informatics”. My family do not oblige her to study only for “A”, but we were shocked, as she is social-mediated child and understand almost everything in technological devices and programmes better than all of us. My mother talked with her supervisor, who started to criticize her behavior at lessons. The supervisor noted that she always paints at her lessons and had a row with the teacher of Informatics for the reason that she puts tongue out to her.  This heartbreaking situation ends with the strong condemnation of my sister by my parents.

After several days, I decided to make sense of the situation concerned. It was very hard to get her to talk due to her constraining and laconic character. Here are the words of my sister:

“My supervisor very strict… You know, she gets nervous when we do not understand the lesson… Someday she said “dull, brainless” to my friend… She was cried… I do not want to ask her questions… I am very boring at her lessons, I do not like her lesson… And… and I am painting then… Teacher of Informatics does not let us to seat to the computers. I do not know why… We read the topic by paragraphs, it is boring too, because I do not understand the programmes that we read… I asked her whether we can use computers to practice the “programme”, she said that she will decide herself when we will be allowed or not allowed to use computers, and if we have a desire to learn it, we can use computers at home…”

 – And then you put out your tongue?

 – Yes… She screamed at me and said, “You will regret about it”.

Unfortunately, it is only a little part of such situations in regional or rural schools. This situation makes me wonder about the reason of low achievement of smart students, who take a low grade because they do not like a teacher and possibly, teacher also does not like them. This, in turn, implies the value of human relationships in education.

Students spend 9 months every year and 4-7 hours in a day at school and teachers are mostly responsible for the academic and social development of students. Safe learning environment with the basement for social and academic abilities are mostly enabled by the positive relationships between teacher and student (Baker et al., 2008; O’Connor, Dearing, & Collins, 2011; Silver, Measelle, Armstron, & Essex, 2005). There are also findings, that teachers who support positive relationships with students in their academic and social spheres, may impact for their future socialization and adaptation in life (Baker et al., 2008; O’Connor et al., 2011; Silver et al., 2005). Murray & Malmgren (2005) also revealed that students with the low socio-economic background might benefit from the teacher-student positive relationship more than those who had the high socio-economic background, but did not have such relationships.

I found the eight minute exciting talk of the Rita F. Pierson “Every kid needs a champion” about the importance of human relationships and how it makes a difference in their lives. Additionally, this talk will get out the message I wanted to explain in the given post. I am also hold an interest about your own experience on significance of relationships with your students (as a teacher) or with your teachers (as a student/pupil). Does the personal attitude toward the definite person make a change in your choice or even life?

Rita F. Pierson “Every kid needs a champion”


Baker, J. M. (2008). The teacher–student relationship as a developmental context for children with internalizing or externalizing behavior problems. School Psychology Quarterly.

Murray, C. M. (2005). Implementing a teacher–student relationship program in a high-poverty urban school: Effects on social, emotional, and academic adjustment and lessons learned. Journal of School Psychology.

O’Connor, E. D. (2011). eacher-child relationship and behavior problem trajectories in elementary school. . American Educational Research Journal.

Silver, B. M. (2005). Trajectories of classroom externalizing behavior: Contributions of child characteristics, family characteristics, and the teacher–child relationship during the school transition. Journal of School Psychology.


4 thoughts on ““Kids do not learn from people they do not like” or the value of relationship in education

  1. Diana, it is a great post. The problem you are raised is very actual nowadays. Fortunately, I had a positive experience at school, my best teacher gave me a lot. However, in my opinion, the majority of schools face such issues. The whole system functions to produce “bad” teachers. The insufficient salary, system of “stavka” and low entrance level for pedagogical specialities result in a great distrust from public. Schools’ managers are forced to hire weak, unprofessional teachers.But there is a solution, and first thing we should do is to involve public to discussion about the problem. Again thank you for you post, I am waiting for more interesting information from you.


  2. The situation described above is quite typical. About a week ago maryyab, while commenting abitayeva’s first blog “A message to parents”, described the similar situation from a different perspective.
    Of course, the role of the teacher in teacher-student relationships cannot be underestimated while achieving educational success. The situation may be worsened by unwillingness for open discussion from both teacher’s and parents’ sides. It is no surprise that many students become demotivated when they receive no positive and productive input simply because teachers, parents and students cannot get on well with each other. This undermines their desire to study and learn something new.
    As far as I was able to understand, your younger sister is a very capable student, who needs a special approach. I believe you will be able to communicate your message both to the teacher and to your little sister. They need to understand: attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference.
    P.S. A special thanks for description of your family scenes and all that “drama”. They made me laugh (especially witty remarks about the punishment of a poor girl) and reminded me of one of my favorite books. And I can also tell you have a great writing potential which you need to develop and polish just a little bit! (It was not as bad as you told me)


  3. You have vividly painted a picture of present day realities in rural schools, that raised a few issues. Stories similar to yours demonstrate that the resources bought to facilitate the learning process and engage students are used only for room decorations and provoke nothing but the boredom.

    I will argue here that the crux of the problem is the level of professionalism not only in terms of academic but also ethical knowledge. I believe that teachers should be taught some basic ways of behavior, so the instances of inappropriate behavior decrease and the trust form general public increases. It may help that along with courses provided by in -service and pre – service training programs would be programs helping to deal with different types of personalities/ behavior and interact with parents more effectively.

    I sincerely hope that against all the odds your sister will not dissipate her talent vainly and succeed in drawing her flora and fauna scenes or discovering new *stars*


  4. Diana, having read your post, my thoughts took me back away to my high school years. Though, it was a long time ago, I still remember those days, as if it was yesterday. It was in early 90’s when the Soviet Union collapsed and people suffered from economic and social crisis. Teachers did not get their salaries for months. It certainly made them irritated. We had an algebra teacher who was excellent in her subject. She was very demanding and strict. To be honest, algebra was not my favorite subject, I was good at humanities. But she did not like those who were comparatively weak at algebra. She pointed with her finger at those frightened students and called them by their family name, scolded those humbled ones who were near enough to tears. That was horrible. She always kept repeating that those who did not know algebra well fail at school, since we would not be able do without it in our real life. I awake to the fact she was not completely right. Personally, I never use algebra, those integrals, square matrix, abscissa in my everyday life. But the thing is not about it, it is about her behavior and intolerant attitude towards less successful students. Probably, for some of them it created negative emotions and lowered their self-esteem. That’s pity.


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