First Things First

basic needs

There’s a reason why survival needs are placed in the centre of the needs circle in Restitution.  It seems obvious that if you can’t survive, nothing else much matters.  But it’s amazing how often this simple fact is overlooked.

I know I’m in a privileged position as a counsellor.  I often have information that classroom teachers don’t have.  I hear the stories about how the family got evicted and are currently homeless.  I know all about the fact that the cupboards are bare and everyone went to bed hungry last night.  I see the fear in the eyes of the person who was assaulted over the weekend who is scared that it’s going to happen again.

What the classroom teacher sees is that homework wasn’t done.  That the student fell asleep in class.  That they grunt two word answers to direct questions.

It’s not hard to understand how quickly such a situation can escalate.  For many of us, we don’t ever have to think about where our next meal is coming from, or where we are going to sleep.  We have the luxury of being able to focus on getting our other needs met, because survival comes easy for us.  So we forget that this is not the reality for everyone, and we try to get those students motivated with the things that motivate us.

We talk to them about keeping focused on graduation.  We talk to them about being kind to other people.  We talk to them about doing the things we love and having fun.

But when you are fighting to survive, those other things seem pretty unimportant.

So next time you see someone who seems not to care, consider that the truth may actually be that they do care very much – it just may not be about the same things you care about.


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