MUCH has been said and written about discipline and students in our schools today.
Even Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been quoted as saying there are sufficient rules and regulations that protect teachers who have been tasked with maintaining discipline.
Having served 34 years in the education service, more than half of that as a teacher, I am uncomfortable that there is indiscipline in some of our schools these days.
There are various reasons for the unfortunate situation. Topping the list is the fact that parents have delegated the duty of inculcating discipline to the schools.
Parents are totally irresponsible if they do not ensure their children behave properly.
How well-behaved are the parents themselves? Do they show exemplary conduct at their work place? Is their work up to date?
Do they punch in on time or somebody else punches their cards for them? We must remember parents’ indiscipline will invariably pass on to their children.
The system has also created the present malaise in schools. Do all teachers hold themselves responsible for the good behaviour of their students or do they feel maintaining discipline is the duty of the head and designated teachers?
Are teachers truly role models for their wards? How effective is the leadership in our schools?
Sad to say, I have known of heads who consider pandering to VIPs more important than running their schools professionally.
Indiscipline creeps into the system due to a multitude of ways. For example, when blatant abuse of the examination process takes place, where conscientious work is compromised and cheating is tolerated or even encouraged.
In a ”premier” secondary school in Kuala Lumpur, copying during the current end-of year exam is rampant with teachers not at all bothered to act.
One student even had the gall to send an SMS message during the Bahasa Malaysia paper to seek answers.
In the same school, teachers entrusted with discipline just sweep cases of misbehaviour such as bullying and physical abuse among students under the carpet.
Or is it this sense of false pride that students of a premier school are incapable of poor discipline?
Even the parent-tacher association (PTA) seems to be sucked into covering up misdeeds, including misappropriation of PTA funds.
I have always believed one does not need a cane to help maintain discipline.
When teachers teach well, are interested in the welfare of students, help organise various activities for them, ensure fair treatment irrespective of race, religion or scholastic ability, then students respond through dedication and respect.
When there is respect between teachers and students, discipline is the end result. In short, discipline is a two-way process between the educator and the child – one gives the other receives and vice-versa.
Parents, on the other hand, must ensure they observe that all-important unwritten rule: “You can spare the cane but ensure you do not spoil the child.”