I’m reading a book called ‘It’s your time you’re wasting’, by Frank Chalk – a clever pen name as the book is about modern teaching methods using the modern way to discipline pupils; much of the old ways of teaching are lost including chalk – I recall from my own schooldays seeing a piece flying to the back of the room to get the attention of a sleeping child?
At first Mr Chalk appears to be a completely disillusioned teacher who has given up. But he hasn’t given up on the pupils, rather he has given up trying to work with the way schools are run and the way pupils are treated. From his experiences you get the idea that schools are most concerned with performance targets and trying to stay out of trouble.
I can concur with much of what he says. I have come across many schools with the same silent ethos – stay out of trouble and under County’s radar. They treat the pupils as customers and allow them and their parents to dictate how they should be taught. Every child that refuses to knuckle down and learn is given a psychological assessment which in turn issues a non-challengeable label which allows the pupil to continue indulging in their deplorable behaviour. A misbehaviour-pass if you will. Teachers are too scared of repercussions to confront children who are all too aware of their rights which they twist and mould to suit their own agenda (also known as I’m-lazy-and-can’t-be-bothered), too concerned about upsetting parents who are also aware of their rights and fit into one of two categories: 1) their child is a complete angel and the school has been incompetent in not ensuring their offspring has had the correct nurturing environment to enable them to give of their best – ie, it’s the school’s fault. 2) They do not, under any circumstances, want their little horror at home and will fight to keep them at school where they are absolved of all responsibility for their behaviour. In many cases (and I know this for a fact) the child is deemed to have been punished enough in having to miss half their lunch break sitting in a classroom for detention, so when they get home they are coddled and treated to a homework-free evening of computer games. How do I know? The parents tell me! They honestly believe they are absolved of having to discipline their children for their behaviour at school – the school is expected to do everything. Teach them the syllabus, teach them manners, respect, etiquette and morals; teach them to ride their bikes, swim, play football…the list is endless.
So why on earth do children need parents? To clothe feed and house them and, to top it off, the parents then expect to be paid for the little they do. I am of course talking about very few parents but they are the ones that are the most well-known by the staff. Their parenting skills have filtered through their personal problems and selfish needs to be reduced to the basics, namely reheating frozen meals, washing and folding clothes (no ironing required), ensuring the television/computer is working and buying a sufficient supply of video games to ensure their child is fully entertained. If the child is too noisy, too disruptive, too conspicuous in any shape or form a shout and threat to withdraw the electronic crutch is all that is required to settle them back into their room. How, or why, would any child learn self-discipline, self-reliance, self-respect/respect or any social skill? Their world is made up of self-indulgence so they are singularly unable to cope with demands and requests that they push themselves, unable to work outside of their comfort zone and unable to understand why they should. This initial failing on the part of the parents is compounded in school through directives restricting staff from doing anything that impinges on the child’s right to do as s/he pleases.
I have to mention here that this is the way families are going – how many of us can afford to have one parent out of work solely to look after the children?
So, one disruptive child, mindful that no-one can make them do anything they don’t want to do, disrupts a whole class and the other 29 pupils lose their right to an education.
Such are the seeds from which society is made. The wheat struggles and every year the quantity of chaff increases.
So what is the solution? There can be no solution if the problem is not identified and I have to tell you that in the majority of cases the problem is with the parent, not the child. The child’s behaviour is the unfortunate result. As a parent I would be extremely resistant to anyone telling me I was not bringing up my children properly and there lies the biggest stumbling block. No-one likes being told they’re wrong and a parent will defend their right to bring up her child as they deem fit. I have no answer to this.
But surely, if the parent cannot be advised, we cannot then allow them to dictate their views on how the school should deal with their children? Give teachers the right to teach, give schools the right to discipline children (I am NOT talking about bringing back the cane), allowing them to overrule parents and refusing to allow them to disrupt school life. At the end of the day, if the child is not conforming and refusing to learn then the solution is simple. The child has to go. Preferably to a boarding school with strict timetables and attitudes, absolutely no mobile phones, computer games or television without strict supervision (to be used as rewards rather than a basic right) and, most importantly, away from the corrupting and selfish attentions of their parents. Give the child a chance to experience a sense of pride in work done well, the opportunity to learn self-discipline and the joy in manual labour. Oh, wait, that’s like a private boarding school right? Again, the privilege of those who can afford it. Whatever happened to National Service – discipline and training?
Drastic? Severe? All those and more. At the moment the worst a school can do is expel a child and pay for them to be home-schooled. This places the child back into the home atmosphere where the parent rules and removes vital funding from the school who have to pay for one-to-one teaching. And don’t forget, the child has achieved their aim – they get to stay at home and be as lazy as they please, in the satisfying knowledge that their parent will back-up their right to be that way (if only so they can get on with trying to earn enough to roof, clothe, and feed their family).
Anarchy has come to roost and we have feathered its nest.