As a volunteer at my local junior high school assisting in the classroom for over 10 years now, I have learnt a thing or two about young teenagers’ behavior at school.
In many schools these days up to half of a teachers’ class time is take up trying to maintain a measure of correct classroom behavior. While it is usually a minority of students in any one class creating the most disturbance, they not only take up too much teacher time, but they also hold back those students who are trying their best to succeed. This is obviously not fair. Modern thinking and community expectations make it very difficult for any teacher to successfully guide or admonish those students who cause the problem. There are only few tools these days that a teacher can use to convince a misbehaving student the consequences of poor behavior. I can assure you that from time to time I wished that there were far more options. Many kids are not concerned with detention, writing lines, reduced privileges or any other allowable tool available these days. If anything, they consider it a badge of honor!
Recently, a fellow volunteer told me that he heard a parent of a high school student saying something along the lines of “I send my child to school so that they can teach my child good manners and proper behavior”. The question that would come into most peoples minds would then be “Have you not done any of this at home before your child went to school?”. Does not understanding the meaning of the word “no” and the repercussions of ignoring it start at a very early age?
Now for the meaty part of what I wish to say.
Modern western societies expect many in our communities to study and pass exams before they can legally put their knowledge and abilities to work. Most teachers, plumbers, electricians, real estate agents, accountants, driving instructors and many many more, require qualifications and licenses before they can do their jobs. But funnily enough, parents are expected to bring a child into this world, raise it until it becomes an adult, all without any training or qualifications. Does that not seem strange and inconsistent? If they had received the right training , would the above parent have made that statement? If they had gathered further knowledge would they then understand, far more clearly, their parental role and responsibility?
I do not think many would argue that one of the most important and long lasting responsibilities a parent can have is the raising of a young child to adulthood. I am not sure how such training would or should be introduced, but I am sure that many parents would then be far more successful in raising their children to becoming responsible, thoughtful, caring, energetic and community minded citizens. From a personal point of view, neither my wife or myself had any idea about such matters when we started our two boy family. We are more than happy with the end result, but we certainly had to learn the hard way and on the job. Would additional knowledge and training assist?
I am convinced that many teachers would understand exactly where I am coming from, but I have no idea what the answer is. While most modern western societies have these types of problems, many older, or maybe wiser societies, deal with raising children in very different ways. Is there a better way? Is there a right or wrong way? Where to from here?
Any thoughts or comments out there?