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Parents must share burden

TEACHERS are frequently reminded to be cautious when dealing with students in school. Any form of punishment, such as pinching, caning, running around the school field and picking up litter, is strictly prohibited nowadays.

As the maxim goes, “spare the rod, spoil the child”. If anything happens to students, such as injuries, teachers will be questioned. Some parents even threaten to sue the teachers.

Gone are the days when teachers had the power and authority to reprimand misbehaving students. In retrospect, when my friends and I were students, we were told to respect teachers despite the fact that some teachers were really strict.

Some even had canes with them all the time. I was in a Chinese primary school and the level of discipline was very strict then. Neither my friend nor I made a fuss and complained to our parents.

Mind you, our parents did not even mind if we were caned or punished by the teachers as they believed that punishment was vital in developing characters and that it should begin in school, although we were also taught good values at home.

Back then, parents respected teachers and had high regard for them. Ultimately, I was taught to appreciate my teachers more and I don’t remember any awful stories of teachers being sued or confronted by parents for punishing their children.

In Hinduism, teachers are perceived as gurus and come before parents and God. Now, to my chagrin, we can’t say that anymore.

I wonder how we, as educators, can mould students as the learners of today are very much different from yesteryears.

Students are being pampered by overprotective parents, so much so that they are sensitive to teachers scolding them for not completing their homework.

They are smart as they know their parents will intervene if they are punished. I can relate this following the recent spate of atrocious and gruesome murders, shootings and killings everywhere, which clearly indicate that the current generation have to be disciplined strictly, starting from schools.

How can we, as teachers, shape their character if we are not even allowed to do our jobs properly? If the learners can’t even bear with simple reminders from us, how are they going to face the trials and tribulations of life, which require their patience? How are they going to learn how to persevere?

Most interestingly, parents will be up in arms and ambush teachers without knowing the real problem. If the students fall down accidentally while playing with their friends, some parents blame the teachers immediately.

They claim that teachers should be responsible for the incidents. The crux of the problem is that parents expect teachers to babysit their children in school while they are busy working.

Some students are sent to schools even when they have fever. On many occasions, teachers have had to call the parents to pick up the children and advise them to not send the children to school if they are sick.

What is the role of a teacher now? Are we being paid to babysit children or prepare lesson plans and enter the class to teach?

I understand why there are complaints about new graduates who expect higher salaries but can’t take advice and keep job-hopping.

Obviously, this is the repercussion of being pampered. Some parents even blame teachers for their child’s poor performance in exams.

What do these parents do to overcome their child’s poor performance? Do they have time to sit and guide the child with his/her homework?

For example, when learning English, parents should try to converse in English at home and buy some quality books to read to improve the child’s vocabulary and simultaneously, cultivate the reading habit.

It is not possible to acquire English in a short time. It requires consistent effort. The burden should not be put on teachers’ shoulders alone because we have more than 30 students in each class.

It is very easy to point fingers but I suggest that some parents do some soul searching.

Let teachers do their work peacefully. Our biggest challenge in school is to steer problematic students to the right path, apart from teaching in the classroom.

Like those in other professions, we do have flaws but we don’t mind learning from the experience to keep improving ourselves.
Sumati Muniandy Johor Baru, Johor NST Opinion Letters 20 JULY 2016 @ 11:01 AM

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