Don’t Let Your Students’ Education Die from Embarrassment
By Charles Sosnik
Do you remember how it felt to be a teenager? You yearned so much for independence as your hormones and emotions were careening throughout your body like a Bally pinball machine. You were so self-conscious, worrying about your clothes, your acne and what the other kids thought of you. And God forbid you should be seen in the presence of your parents or siblings.
Now multiply that feeling by 1000 and you may begin to know the way your students feel in the age of social media.
According to Carl E Pickhardt Ph.D. in a blog published on Psychology Today, adolescent embarrassment “can result in feelings of social exposure, self-consciousness, isolation, anxiety, humiliation, and even shame. Adolescents are very easy to embarrass because this is the age of in-between when one is no longer a child but not yet an adult and can be criticized on both fronts for either presuming to act too old or for not acting old enough. Sometimes it feels like one can’t win for losing as the young person stumbles their way to young adulthood through the trial and error process of growing up.
“The emotional impact of embarrassment can be intense,” wrote Pickhardt. “Because of humorous or critical attention paid to his apparent individuality or inadequacy, the adolescent can feel held up to question, like the eyes of the whole world are focused on him. Caught in the sudden headlights of public notice, he may wish for the moment that he could just disappear.”
One of the biggest obstacles to successfully educating our students during this trial and error period of virtual learning is the AWOL student. Too many of our students, particularly middle and high schoolers, are simply not showing up for our video conferenced classrooms and group ZOOM sessions. Even the kids who have devices and broadband are opting out of these virtual group activities. Want to know why? They are embarrassed. Embarrassed by their homes, embarrassed by their work areas, which is often by default their bedrooms. By showing the world their messy homes or sparse living arrangements, they believe they are opening themselves up to ridicule from their friends and frenemies.
To avoid isolation, it is important that we utilize ZOOM, Slack, Teams and other video conferencing tools to connect our learners to each other and to their teachers. So, what to do?
The answer may be very simple and inexpensive, and along the way give our camera-shy learners a feeling of confidence and a professional setting they can be proud of. We can buy our students a virtual office complete with work area, office chair and backdrop and have it shipped directly to their homes for less than $100.
For example, here’s an IKEA shopping/ship-to-you list of items with links for a budget buy that includes curtain brackets that can hang from the ceiling and hold any sheet, blanket or actual curtains as a backdrop for students and create a small privacy space in almost any room.
https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/linnmon-adils-table-white-s29932181/ – $24.99 easily shipped desk (legs screw in)
https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/snille-swivel-chair-white-s79046260/ – Student chair $19.99
https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/raecka-curtain-rod-combination-white-s59929243/ – Ceiling Curtain Bracket and Pole – ceiling or wall mount $6.99
https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/syrlig-curtain-ring-with-clip-and-hook-white-40224098/ – Shower Curtain Rings $3.99
https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/gatkamomill-shower-curtain-turquoise-white-10466201/ – An opaque shower curtain is a good option and inexpensive at $9.99.
Subtotal before delivery: $65.95
Delivery (with an IKEA in the metro area) $20.00
Total (plus tax depending on State from IKEA) $85.95
About the author
Charles Sosnik is an education journalist and editor and serves as Editor in Chief at the Learning Counsel. An EP3 Education Fellow, he uses his deep roots in the education community to add context to the education narrative. Charles is a frequent writer and columnist for some of the most influential media in education, including the Learning Counsel, EdNews Daily, EdTech Digest and edCircuit. Unabashedly Southern, Charles likes to say he is an editor by trade and Southern by the Grace of God.