… psychoanalyst and the list could go on. Apparently, these occupations have almost nothing in common. Is this true?
Some weeks ago, I attended a public meeting hosted by the teacher Enrico Galiano. He currently works at a secondary school teaching eleven- to thirteen-year-olds. According to the masterprof.it web site, he is one of the top 100 teachers in Italy. He is loved by his students because he is able to devise original ways to communicate effectively with them. For example, when he has to take attendance at the beginning of a lesson, he does not just call every pupil by name. Instead, he asks each and every student “How are you doing?” Obviously, this question implies a longer answer and the roll-call process takes much more time. But, throughout the rest of the lesson, pupils are much more attentive and engaged. At the end of the day, they receive more from him than a long, flat, and boring lesson.
Why did Professor Galiano take this approach to take attendance? During the talk, somebody asked him what pupils don’t like about our society. He answered that one of the most common things his students complain about is that they don’t feel like they are being heard by adults. The way he does roll-call is a simple—but effective—ploy to make pupils feel they are heard. They also acknowledge that the teacher cares about them.
Let’s return to the question at the beginning of this post. There is a common thread which runs through these professions. They all deal with painful situations in one way or another. This can be due to either physical or psychological issues or a combination of the two. This is obvious in professions such as doctors and psychoanalysts. But I think it is true even for jobs which are not supposed to confront such issues, like teaching.
The roll-call approach used by prof. Galiano is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the discomfort he and his colleagues have to deal with on a daily basis. As he teaches Italian, he reads a lot of essays written by his pupils in which they find the courage to spit out all their sorrow; something they often can’t accomplish with their closest friends or parents.
The other professional figures I listed at the beginning of this article play a similar role to the teachers I just mentioned. It is no coincidence that I thought about this post while I was lying on the table of my osteopath, another profession which belongs on this list. During the treatment, we usually talk about his job. On one occasion, he told me that his closest patients—who generally are not very young—usually tell him about their personal problems during the sessions. And I strongly suspect that this talking is as effective as the actual osteopathic treatment itself.
So it seems that the common thread running through these jobs is to share and express sorrow. In other words, it seems that the mere fact of letting other people know of our pain is enough to partly relieve our suffering. Even if the solutions to our problems are beyond their technical capabilities, their presence represents a helpful support because we feel we can move part of the burdens we carry from our shoulders to theirs. Put differently, they make us feel a little bit less lonely in the endless fight against hardship. And this is all thanks to the mere fact that they are willing to listen to us. At the end of the day, it really seems that the need to be listened to is felt not only by professor’s Galiano young pupils …
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