Thank you Camilla for submitting this extremely thought provoking post! I’m delighted that you wanted to Guest Blog for me. Camilla is a highly experienced and knowledgable Deputy Headteacher and mother to 2 lovely little boys. Here she explores the issue of self-esteem in the school environment and beyond…
The Bashing of Morph.
The Headteacher interview process was into its second day. As the candidate sat down for her panel interview, she pulled out a model of Morph, from the famous 80s animation. It wasn’t quite as good but it was clear who he was. She explained that Morph represents a pupil in a school.
“Not now Morph, I’m busy with another pupil.”
The candidate pushed Morph’s plasticine shoulder down with her thumb so he stood awkwardly, his arm sticking out at an odd angle.
“Yes that’s good Morph, but you didn’t write the digits on the line.”
The other shoulder slumped, head lolling to one side.
“I know you worked hard on that project but you studied the wrong type of plant!”
Morph’s leg buckled and he looks almost bent in two.
“Why did you flick that pencil? Why? Would you do that at home? No!”
Bent double, limbs all over the place.
“It doesn’t matter if you weren’t picked for the team, there’ll be plenty more opportunities”
Morph was a pile of brown plasticine in an unrecognisable lump, eyes squashed and no features to speak of.
The candidate looked up at the panel, and paused before saying, “And I see it as my job, as Headteacher, to ensure as far as I can, that that doesn’t happen in my school.”
This was a story shared at the Headteacher training conference I attended a few years ago. It was pertinent to me then, as a Deputy Headteacher who spent much time observing classroom practice, delivering staff training and also dealing with pupils on a one on one or small group basis, often sorting disagreements. Those statements that I’ve heard, both from my own mouth and that of others, are all too common. As a teacher, you know you should maintain the positive approach, rewarding the good behaviour, not punishing the bad. But it’s hard. The children have been in all lunchtime due to the rain and have unspent energy, you’ve a staff meeting after school and you’ve a pile of maths books waiting for you to mark them before tomorrow’s next maths lesson, which is first thing. All too quickly, out slips the odd comment, that look at the child who just knows how to push your buttons, not quite enough time to explain that maths method, and just not as much patience as you should have.
As a full time mum of two small boys now, I have the same struggles. The food’s been thrown on the clean floor for the nth time today, the baby’s crying again, the tantrum because you presented the same food that he liked yesterday, you’re tired, it’s raining… I try to imagine my 2 year old as Morph and I wonder how many times a day I knock him and squash him. It’s more than I’d like to admit to, probably.
Self esteem is an abstract noun, meaning it doesn’t have a physical presence. True. But we can see low self esteem, in a variety of ways. It’s the result of a steady stream of knock downs from peers, parents, family, friends, teachers, coaches… your Morph may not be a pupil or child. But we all do it don’t we? We also all encounter little people at some point, and what we say and how we say it – and what we don’t say – can make a huge difference. When you encounter that Morph, you don’t know how many knocks have come before and how close to being an unrecognisable pile he is. And there is no magical ability to change into a ball, or cylinder to get away from it.
And with Morph standing tall, neither should there need be.
If the self-esteem of your children or those you teach is a matter close to your heart, check out:
And maybe even place an order! I am hopeful that this story might be used as a tool to explore issues related to self-esteem with children. And you might just get me to my target this week!
Thank you for reading.