Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Children's names can spell trouble for teachers

IN the wake of The Apprentice star Katie Hopkins being branded an "insufferable snob" for her attitude on children's names, I would like to say that I have been a secondary school teacher for more than 20 years and there is no doubt in my mind that there are certain names that are associated with challenging behaviour.

If I see a Kyle on the register, I know he is likely (though not definitely) to be a child who presents a less-than-positive attitude.

Is this prejudice? No. Because, of the two dozen boys named Kyle whom I have taught, only one presented anything approaching a positive, co-operative mindset.

The majority were difficult and often overtly insolent.

Other warning signs are common names that do not have the traditional spelling, or children named after what I can only assume to be the place where they were conceived.

Of course, children are predominantly a product of the environment in which they are raised.

It is not a self-fulfilling prophecy that a child with a certain name turns out to be difficult.

Having said that, I was touched recently when a particularly difficult Kyle, now grown up and working in a supermarket, ran up to me when I went to shop there and apologised for his attitude and behaviour, saying he now realises I was just trying to do my job.

In teaching, the rewards are not always immediate.

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