It is a mind-boggling question which all individuals must reflect on as we go about our daily lives.
When parents send their children to school, they have so much hope and aspirations for them, and want them to be successful, live a good life and secure a good job.
The list goes on. But do they realise that children learn so much at home and from them, the first teachers in life?
Often, teachers face multiple situations where values taught at home needs to be unlearnt in school.
In my years of teaching Moral Education in secondary schools, I took issue with students using profanity or inappropriate phrases among their friends and sometimes at teachers.
Coming from a background where I was reminded that what people say is what is inside them and transforms into words and actions, I felt a responsibility to have discussions with such students to try and create awareness that using profanity and inappropriate phrases was neither acceptable nor encouraged in a social environment.
Some students refrain from using such words, at least in Moral Education class, but others keep using them and think it is acceptable.
Upon further research, I found that their parents used such words and phrases around their children.
School is not just a place to inculcate knowledge and values but also to unlearn and “re-engineer” one’s values, especially if such values are not appropriate for communal living or create disharmony in society.
It is difficult when the home or social environment is not supportive. It is essential for teachers to understand the home environment of their students.
Spending several minutes each day with each student, talking to them and understanding their background builds trust and mutual respect.
From my years of teaching, even the most hard core students are soft and compassionate deep inside.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, such as family disputes and many other social problems, these students become hard outside and are considered a nuisance at school.
They need the support of their school and the school community to help them realise that they need to unlearn and learn again.
The process of unlearning and learning again is a lifelong skill and as students become more mature in their intellectual process, the task becomes feasible.
Thus, the focus starts with the teacher who reaches out to the students. Dr Vishalache Balakrishnan NST Opinion Letters 7 October 2016 @ 11:02 AM