Friday, May 07, 2004

more on teachers

dan makes more remarks over on his blog regarding corporal punishments in schools, public opinion, etcetc. which makes me think about my stand on what teachers should and should not (be able to) do when it comes to disciplining kids.

i'm strongly not in favour of corporal punishment in schools, mostly because of what dan said - that you get kids who do what you want because you told them to, not because it's the right thing to do blahblah-, and what jol said -that it teaches kids not respect but fear and resentment, and that might makes right. though frankly, i can understand the desire for recourse to a fat stick, or in desperate times, a nice fat paperback to smack an uppity brat with. and god only knows our society is full of uppity brats, who have a huge sense of power and entitlement that just makes me want to throw them over a parapet. there are definitely moments when dealing with younger kids (navy brats, and this isn't even in a teacher-capacity) that i really wish i could smack them, or even scream at them with my full eardrumbreaking lung capacity. but i can't, because i'm supposedly older and wiser, and have learned the self-restraint that stops me from cold-clocking bratty teenagers. (which reminds me of our advice to H, when we learned she might be teaching in a scary neighbourhood in chi-town: bring your sticks to your first class and beat the shit out of the biggest kid in class. that'll teach them not to mess with you OR your car)

i digress. how should we keep discipline in schools, if not via corporal punishment, and not via jia1 jiao4 (relying on parents to keep their kids in line)? the trick is for schools, the admin, the MOE, to get behind their teachers and back them up. if a kid's behaviour calls for suspension, give it; if the kid's behaviour calls for expulsion, expell the kid. it's a harsh policy, and some kids are gonna suffer for their mistakes, but if you can't draw a line in the sand and stick to it, then you're lost. the line you draw in the sand can't be unreasonable, but it's gotta be there. the crux of the problem, as dan pointed out, and as far as i'm concerned, is that MOE and the schools are not backing up their teachers in the war-zone...i mean classrooms and corridors of hell...i mean their schools.

i agree with jol to a certain extent: it is desirable for our kids to have respect for the rules because they believe the rules to be right, and teachers and other holders of authority are to be respected because they are worthy of our respect. but i disagree with jol that 'no one deserves respect by virtue of his position'. not every person who is in a position of authority is going to be someone worthy of (my) respect - not every president, prime minister, member of parliament, or principal of a school. but the position which said person occupies is one that is worthy of respect. it's like being loyal to the office of the Prime Minister of Singapore or the President of the United States, rather than to Goh Chok Tong or George W. Bush. i may laugh at bushie, but that doesn't mean i disrespect his position as the Leader of the Free World. -grin- it's unfortunate that these positions of authority are sometimes occupied by clowns, but the fact that the principal is a clown does not give students the right to stomp all over school rules because they don't respect him as a person.

dan is right, and kids today are not the innocent babes that their parents fondly imagine them to be. they are wily and cunning, and they don't care if they are caught; they feel like they can do what they want with impunity because their parents, guilty that they cannot control their own children, will support them against the schools because they refuse to believe their children are monsters. (my parents would never have done that.) but schools are not substitutes for homes and families, and teachers are not substitutes for parents. we can't treat them as such; they have different jobs and different responsibilities.

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