"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."

('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Withdrawal symptoms

I must be suffering from withdrawal symptoms but I found myself looking at the Times Educational Supplement on the web today and I found
this . Unfortunately incidents like this are not as uncommon as they should be and they epitomise much of what makes the job so difficult and stressful for teachers these days.
Is it a general lack of parenting skills in some of today's parents, or is it just that, in the short term, it's easier to give in to a child? Or is there a general feeling of guilt among them that  lack of time and attention  can be compensated for by being spoilt in other ways? Of course today's society focuses on people's rights while quietly ignoring their responsibilities and this has filtered down to the next generation. The result is that even pupils of primary age are aware that if they get into trouble at school, all they have to do is go home and complain to their parents who will then come rushing into school to inform the teacher that whatever happened couldn't possibly be their Johnny's fault and no, they will not support the school in any punishment or sanction.
Naturally all this takes place in front of the child, who is then reinforced in his belief that anything he does is O.K. If the parent is also violent towards the teacher, what does that say to the child?
Which leaves the teacher with a problem. What sanctions are there for future occasions of disruptive behaviour? Exclusion? The government aren't keen on that and have made it more and more difficult over the past few years. Besides, the excluded child is then free to wreak havoc outside school and frequently does.
But it also leaves all the other pupils with a problem - all those who just want to get on with school life and could do with a bit of the time and attention that the teacher is having to spend on one child.  Every disruptive child in a class means that all the others are missing out and their education is being compromised.  So it's good to see the message sometimes getting through that teachers are not there to be pilloried for the results of parents' shortcomings!

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