29 Feb 2008

Spare the rod

Yesterday I had a Eureka! moment. It stemmed from something I witnessed a little while before.

A child, no more than 12 or 13 (he is is Year 7, or Form 1 as we would say in Trinidad) who normally behaved so badly during lessons that his mother was invited to sit with him during his classes to make him behave.

Normally, a child would be embarrassed for something like that to happen - it shows him up to his peers in a negative light, and might make him a laughing stock in the school yard. Not so this kid. He was proud.

He was well behaved, for all of 1/2 hour. Then he returned to his typical disruptive behaviour, something even his mother is unable to control at this point.

At 10 minutes to the end of the class, the teacher asked everyone to be quiet and listen to her instruction. Everyone did, but one. Guess who? The teacher was silent, just looking at him until he paid attention, and he - now the centre of attention - just continued.

His mother kept nudging him with her foot to hint he should stop talking and follow the class. Not he... he kicked his mother on her shins. And she, blessed idiot, took it without a murmur of protest.

The teacher immediately shouted at him "S***r, What do you think you are doing?!"

He turned to the teacher and said, "Miss, she kicked me first, Miss."

Do you find something wrong with this picture?

My Eureka! moment came not long after. I realised with such blinding clarity that now the teacher has taken over the role of the parent, to discipline and guide this child into becoming an adult she could be proud of.

And yet, my thoughts were, 'How unfair!'.

This teacher, in her late 50s has already been through the stress (in her younger days when she was more capable of handling it) of raising her own kids. Now parents are passing on 30 or so children to her daily, for her to do the job they are not willing to do. How fair is that to our teachers?!

I'm sorry, but I see something terribly wrong in this. Whoever said 'Spare the rod, spoil the child' has summed up an entire generation, maybe 2, in just one sentence. I personally would have taken this young man and given him a thrashing. Against the law? Imagine what he can grow up to be and tell me that a lesson learnt now will not be more productive.

For those of my readers who believe that whippings are wrong, ask yourself how many of you had them, and whether you are now languishing in a prison, residing in death row, or have to arm yourself to stay alive.

Ask yourself how many people from 30 decades ago prefer to settle arguments with guns and knives instead of fists. Ask yourself how many of you would have slapped a teacher in his face (witnessed on Wednesday) and called him racist names.

You just have to look around and you will see how much more we are violent as a society in adulthood, because we are not punished from doing wrong as a child. The proof stares at you in the face - you are not doing your children any favours by treating them gently. We are more violent as a society because we were told disciplining your children is wrong.

Tell the government and authorities to fuck off if you have to. Don't pass your parental responsibilities to others. They are not prepared to accept them, and you may just find yourself getting kicked in the shins, or visiting your kids in the nearest prison - or the morgue.