terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Idiosyncracies

Y'know, I can't remember the last time I read something this sanctimonious and self-righteous in quite a while:

"Top independent boys' secondary school..." (repeated again later in the letter - ok, we geddit. Happy?)

"My eldest son's co-form teacher is a tyrant to her students. She doesn't let a day go by without scolding somebody. They wonder why she chose to teach. It has come to the point where the boys actually look forward to being sent out of the class." ('Tyrant?' Yeesh, written like a student herself. Why do you think she chose to teach? And let's think about this for a bit: the source of this information is...? And your source tells you boys look forward to being sent out of class? Hmm, something sounds fishy here. Did said source get into hot water with you recently about something and this came up? I don't know. Just a thought.)

"Is this another idiosyncrasy or the prerogative of teachers to be rude and disrespectful?" (Eh? From the actions of one example, she makes the generalisation to all teachers?)

"There are teachers who complain that students nowadays are defiant, disrespectful and difficult to handle. These teachers generally have poor rapport with students, are unpopular and are disliked." (And she knows this because she's an expert in human behaviour and especially in teachers. And certainly her children, of a top independent school, aren't ever at fault when this happens, right?)

"...to see teaching not just as a well-paid job, but also as a fulfilling profession?" (Er, excuse me while I laugh my ass off at the part about being 'well-paid' - sure if getting $10 an hour every day for 40 69-hour weeks - without including CCA, pointless meetings and having to come back during the holidays - is being 'well-paid'. If this is what a parent thinks of the majority of the people who get into the teaching profession, then, well, god help them all.)

Are we judging idiosyncracies now?


COUNSEL IDIOSYNCRATIC TEACHERS TOO

THE Ministry of Education has plans for more full-time counsellors to help students with various issues. May I suggest that the ministry extend the scheme to teachers, to teach them how to interact and communicate with students, particularly teenagers, and to respect students as fellow beings whose feelings are as easily hurt as theirs. Teachers should also be taught anger management.

I am a mother with four school-going children. The older two are in a top independent boys' secondary school and the younger two are in primary school.

I have noted that there is an increasing number of young teachers who lack the most essential qualification of an educator - the human touch. They have poor rapport with students; they lack interpersonal skills; they do not treat students with respect but expect respect and total obedience; they behave as if a teacher has the intrinsic right to yell, shout and scream at students whenever the mood strikes; they believe that imparting values and morals is done through scolding and punishment.

My eldest son's co-form teacher is a tyrant to her students. She doesn't let a day go by without scolding somebody. They wonder why she chose to teach. It has come to the point where the boys actually look forward to being sent out of the class.

She has certain standards of behaviour of which the boys are ignorant. For instance, when she scolds the boys, they are expected to look at the floor. When my son was scolded by her for not doing corrections, he looked at her. She took that as, and I quote her words in her correspondence with me, 'aggression' and 'defiance'.

I explained that I teach my children to look at adults when talking to them. Looking elsewhere or at certain parts of the anatomy might be interpreted as disrespect or disinterest.

However, the teacher accused him of being defiant, scolded him and sent him out of the class. In our correspondence, even though I offered an explanation for my son's behaviour, her reply was that she expects a student to look at the teacher only when the teacher is talking.

In addition, her students feel that she is self-righteous. It is always the students who are at fault. During one lesson, she held a whiteboard marker in her right hand while gesticulating to make a point. She inadvertently pointed her middle finger at the class and the boys laughed. She saw red. She ordered the boy who had laughed the loudest to stand beside her and deliberately pointed her middle finger at him and told him to laugh. It became the student's fault. His crime? Laughter.

Nobody is perfect. Students make mistakes. Teachers, too, make mistakes. Students are expected to apologise but what about teachers?

Do teachers punish students because they feel that the students had done wrong or is it out of anger?

My son's class dislikes this teacher so much that they rejoice when she is absent from school. One boy even goes to the extent of reading the obituary every morning to see if her photograph is there. The whole class is afraid of her following them up to Secondary Four next year.

Mind you, this is a top independent school. The boys are grounded in such subjects as Philosophy and Character Development. The irony is that this teacher also teaches Character Development.

I have corresponded with this teacher. She is a good teacher only in the sense that she delivers her lessons well and she chases students for corrections and late work. She says that she does not always scold the boys. She only talks to them to teach them right from wrong. Her intention is good, but her mode of delivery is obviously undesirable.

Another teacher in the school has the unpleasant habit of pulling students by the back of the collar or using whatever she has in her hands to hit the boys when they pass by her without greeting her. She would then stare at them and they are expected to know the reason for her stare and greet her. Is this another idiosyncrasy or the prerogative of teachers to be rude and disrespectful?

There are teachers who complain that students nowadays are defiant, disrespectful and difficult to handle. These teachers generally have poor rapport with students, are unpopular and are disliked.

However, at the other end of the spectrum, there are teachers who have fantastically good rapport with students, who are able to gain their trust and confidence and who have the knack of scolding without being judgmental, without harsh words and with their students accepting their punishment because they feel that they deserved it.

What can the Ministry of Education do to help teachers enjoy teaching, to see teaching not just as a well-paid job, but also as a fulfilling profession?

NG KIM YONG (MRS)

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