Confessions Of A “School Parent Crusader”………
Posted by ErnieJean on October 30, 2008
Sometime back this year, my 8 year old child, came home looking really troubled and traumatised. After much prodding, she revealed that a teacher had pulled her ears, along with a few other kids, supposedly for making noise in the classroom.
Apparently, my 8 year old who was the class monitor, had to keep the class in order while the teacher went MIA, and as expected of 8 year olds, the kids are not about to allow their fellow classmate tell them to shut up and behave. So, while my poor little child had to scream on top of her voice to get the other screaming kids to tone down (bad strategy obviously), a teacher who was walking past the classroom, came in and without finding out the actual senario, proceeded to twist the ears of the poor 8-year old class monitor and the other noisy kids.
Anyway, like a typical parent who believes in being involved in one’s child’s growing up years, I thought it would only make sense that I speak to the teacher (in a really really nice and polite manner of course), as to how a parent like myself is expected to explain to a child that, while she is being taught that pulling ears, amongst many other rude actions were a big No-No, a school teacher who is supposed to be respected went ahead and did it anyway.
After approaching the teacher, let’s call her Cikgu X, we went thru the whole incident all over again, and this was the final portion of our conversation (more or less)….
Cikgu X : I am a strict person, all students know that.
Me : Yes, and I absolutely have no problems with that. If the child really deserves punishment, by all means. But why was the class monitor being punished for doing her job? And don’t you think twisting ear is a rather demeaning act? Perhaps I could suggest caning on the palm of the hands with a ruler or making them stand in a corner or something more appropriate.
Cikgu X : I believe in being strict to instill discipline and I don’t usually hesitate in my punishments.
Me : (Erm……which part did she not understand again?) Yes Yes I know. I’m glad you are strict. But can we perhaps not use demeaning ways to punish a student? After all, they are only 8 year olds. By the way, why was the teacher away?
Cikgu X : OK, I’ll talk to the discipline master to see what other punishment we can come up with. The teacher? Oh, she had to go perform her prayers.
Me : (Don’t mean to offend anyone but…..prayers in the middle of a lesson!!!!!?????) Yes, do go discuss with your discipline master please. Thanks.
Now, before anyone starts tearing me to bits for being an overly protective mother, it’s not about protecting my child from receiving a deserving punishment, but rather it’s about speaking up when something is not right and fighting for one’s rights. Being punished for trying to do one’s job is just not acceptable, nor is being subjected to demeaning acts of punishment. Yes, they say some teachers have been doing it since the begining of time, but doesn’t mean it’s still right.
Also, I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I just can’t accept teachers going off to fulfill a personal obligation, such as prayers in this case, while leaving an entire classroom of active children to their own devices. Can’t it wait till the lesson is over? Am I missing something here?
And that is only one small part of what is soooo wrong with our present national schooling system…the teachers, the syllabus, the school heads……..which all leads to the main man himself, the Minister of Education. If only he is just able to differentiate between his political ambitions and social obligations, our education system would have been a lot more respectable.
Someone asked me why didn’t I send my child to a Chinese vernacular school or a private school. Why send to a National School then?
Chinese school? Well, for one thing, the particular chinese school near where I stay (think we’re only allowed to send to the school nearest to our place of residence, or something like that), had sort of indicated that I am to contribute quite a handsome sum to their “Building Fund” if I wanted my child enrolled into that school. It also didn’t help that I had to deal with extremely rude and LCLY teachers and school administrators, and coupled with the infamous mountain high workload and stressfull competitive environment, I was ready to “deny my child the right to learn her mother tongue” (as some well-meaning relatives have accused me of). But I gotta admit, the cleanliness and student discipline in these schools are top-notch. And to be fair, I’m sure not all of these vernacular schools are guilty of what I’ve experienced. Just my bad luck to have crossed path with one “black sheep”.
Private school? Not rich enough. Period. Anyway, as a tax-paying citizen, shouldn’t we be expecting affordable quality education?
National School…..yes, the overall quality of teaching, building facilities, etc are really sad and depressing. But my priority for my child’s elementary education was to be more of a well-rounded sort of education and not just scoring As. I mean, what will 15As do for kids their age? I also realised that, in some schools, there will be a majority of students who come from families who are just as involved with their children’s lives as I am and believe in instilling the Ps & Qs……and that’s the sort of environment that I want my child to be growing up in. Lessons wise? I’ll just have to tutor my child at home and not depend on her teachers.
However, having said all that, not all teachers are horrible. There are those, especially from the old school, who remain dedicated and professional……hopefully, they will continue teaching even after retirement 😛
There has been many proposals and recommendations to improve our pathetic education system, but as long as there is no will from the top honchos to make those improvements, we can wait till the cows fly home and the education system will still suck.
In the meantime, parents like myself will just have to continue being “School Parent Crusaders”.