David and Leah










These are pictures of my grand-daughter Leah. The pictures together tell a story.

First she poses as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, then she gets a wicked idea and finally she puts her foot on my shoulder to get a really good tug at my hair. (This doesn't exactly show respect, but it shows trust because I know she wouldn't want to hurt me, and it shows equal status in a way, and it shows us having fun).

"Sit up straight! Pay attention! Stop fidgeting! It’s you I’m talking to! Don’t make a long face! Don’t answer back! Take that out of your mouth! Do as you’re told!"

Imagine that it is actually you I am talking to like that.

Even if you had respected me beforehand, since you had no reason not to, you would by now be antagonised or even angry. Any respect you might have felt will have been overwhelmed by a fierce dislike.

Children are more expected to respect others, while not being respected themselves.

If you read this page carefully and make a summary of it in your IT file in your best handwriting, you will get a star. Well done, you clever adult! That’s just what I wanted. Look, I am going to write, “Well done, keep up the good work!” at the bottom of the page.

Condescension cripples respect as well. Implying your superiority by condescension generates scorn.

Expecting people to stand up when you come into the room, to call you “Sir” or “Miss” and always allow you to go first, produces behaviour that is submissive rather than respectful. Respect between two people, of whatever ages, has to be mutual if it is to have any value.

Civilised society depends on mutual respect. A refusal to respect children discourages them from becoming civilised. Many schools, by ignoring this fact, cultivate hostility.

As you will find, if you read more on this site, there are also many places of education around the world where the opposite approach has significant benefits, even in the most unfavourable circumstances.

More articles by David Gribble