Monday, April 07, 2014

Spare the rod and spoil the child

Recently I’ve heard several instances where teachers who punished students gets blamed for it by the parents, while the culprit goes scot free. The most famous incident was where that Pradeshiya Sabha member made a teacher kneel down for punishing his daughter for having a short skirt length. I put that down to total mental retardation. Wouldn’t expect much more form a politician these days. Sadly, this seems to be becoming the norm, rather than the exception.

Our parish priest gave a sermon recently on the same theme. Before mass starts, he goes around the church and checks if children are hanging outside of the church and drives them inside. He has reserved the front pews especially for Sunday school students. Apparently some parents are not happy with that. I mean, he’s just asking them to come inside the church during mass, but that seems to be a big problem for some. He used to ask the adults to come in too, but adults being adults, never listens, so he gave that up. It’s the same at the school too. Punish a student and the parents come crying foul, without even considering what the child has done.

I don’t think it’s wrong for the priest to ask people to come inside the church during service. Regardless of your religion, if you are participating for any religious observance, shouldn’t you participate whole heartedly? Nobody forces you to come to church or temple. If you don’t want to participate in the ceremonies with devotion, then why bother to come at all? Stay home without becoming a distraction for rest of the worshippers.

A teacher I know says a similar thing. If they punish a student and the parents come and make a big fuss about it. Yes, teachers shouldn’t be allowed to punish indiscriminately or dole out severe punishments. There should be some checks in place with competent supervisory roles established to control them. But teachers should have authority and freedom to help students rectify their mistakes.

Someone can argue that it’s better to teach the child the right from wrong rather than punishing them. In a perfect world, children would listen to adults and behave accordingly. But in the real world, saintly children like that are a rare minority. We were all kids once, and we know all the things we did back then. I was punished by teachers, but I didn’t go home crying ‘boo hoo I got punished’. If I had done that, my parents would’ve said “you probably deserved it”. Think about it. Would you have not done certain things back then if the threat of punishment was not hanging in the air?

If a child doesn’t listen to good advice and keeps doing the same wrong thing, shouldn’t they be punished? What happens now is that children know that they can get away with anything. If someone punishes them, they go running to their parents, knowing very well that the parents will blame everyone except the child.

This is even happening with grown up children. A family I know runs a Pharmacy and employ two young girls for sales work. It’s not a high paying job, but the employers are very lenient folks. The girls on the other hand are not that reliable and tends not to show up sometimes without prior notice. Recently, both of them had gotten late coming in the morning and the employer had bit sternly suggested that they try to come on time. One of the girls has gone home and said this to her father, and the father has decided not to send the daughter to work from there afterwards. The girl actually wants to keep the job but the father seems adamant. It’s like that they have no work ethic, and when the employer tries to rectify it, it’s somehow the employers fault. If you don’t want to work according to rules, then fine, it’s your loss. It’s funny, but people complain that it’s hard to find a job, but then they don’t make the effort to keep the job they have. The topic of work ethics is a whole another discussion.

Parents today are too result oriented. First, the scholarship exams, then the O/L and the A/L, the whole target being getting in to a university. So they are forcing kids to study from the day that they start school. Add to that, they are white washing the wrong doings of the child. You don’t have to be a psychologist to know that there is something wrong there. We are just nurturing a generation of insensitive, immature people who will have unrealistic expectations of society, and who will not have the necessary skills to survive the real world. 


Janitha said...

Good article. I really think that teachers do over-step their boundaries sometimes. I found a good resource for some great sri lankan articles for parents and kids,

Maleficent said...

i think some teachers (like some individuals in other types of professionals) do overstep boundaries. but i've also found that there is less disciplining of children than earlier! (at the risk of sounding 'our time was better' :)