chapter  10
10 Pages

Staff and Public Relations

The work of the wise is to undo the harm done by the good. We like to think we are wise rather than good. The work at Red Hill School calls for adults who are capable of adapting themselves to varied and exacting circumstances and of working among children who do not restrict the expression of their maladjustment and volubility and who, in the early stages of becoming untwisted, put all kinds of pressure upon an adult, not the least pressure coming from those whose predominant feeling is that of hostility to the adult. Anger is a short madness: we must not be angry. We must, however, be people of worldly experience who have a knowledge not only of theories but a real understanding of, and not merely about, the complexities and frailties of human behaviour. Work such as ours becomes easier if we have a maturity of outlook and stability of emotion. Not only are we required to fulfil a special function of re-education, but we have to provide a general sweeping attention of a therapeutic kind in relation to all the children. Many of us, too, have to exercise our general function in relation to parents, representatives of local education authorities who maintain children at the school, and with local residents. This work could become impossible unless the mental reserves of an adult include a sense of vocation, a sense of humour, innate objectivity and a general friendliness. While we must escape a rigid theological or inflexible doctrinal outlook, for an individual staff member there is a great security to be found in his or her religious belief or creed, but this goodness is not helped by a revelation of a doubt which could be exhibited to the confusion of the child. While we must enjoy the company and presence of

children and genuinely share their interests, with a liking for studying and helping them, we have at the same time to be tolerant of symptoms of maladjustment and to accept hostility and negativism directed against ourselves, especially in the earlier months of a child's stay with us. In those days we must not expect gratitude from the boy except perhaps for favours he hopes will come. As the Albemarle Report said, 'Youth work is particularly challenging as it requires a tense day to day walking on a razor-edge between sympathy and surrender'. Avoiding sentimentality and purposeless introspection, we should be fairly certain that our conscious and unconscious motives leading us to the kind of work we have chosen are durable and not based upon an uneasy inner compromise.