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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A few thoughts on schooling and education

Today I read a post on a blog somewhere about a parent who was upset that their child was disciplined with a verbal warning by a teacher for taking the name of the Lord in vain. This parent was about to take the matter to the principal or superintendent or some such nonsense. Now, I don't care whether you agree that that is swearing or not, that teacher should have a little authority over her classroom.
Stay with me here. We send our children to schools to be taught. Children and teenagers, as a general rule, don't want to learn. They would rather goof off in back texting to friends, talking, or otherwise not paying attention. With me so far?

OK, now we take a teacher who desperately wants to teach these kids, but can't get anything through because they are busy talking, texting, and probably even taking the name of the Lord in vain. Now, imagine this teacher tells the kids to quiet down, put cell phones, iPads, and MP3 players away and heaven forbid, pay attention to the lesson.

Then, when the children are forced to do these things, they go home and whine to their parents about what their teachers made them do. The furious parent calls the principal, wanting justice for their child, who had such a hard time because of a private, verbal reprimand. The poor tender feelings of their young one must be considered. The principal, knowing he answers to such taxpayers in one form or another, reprimands the teacher for what? Disciplining her class in a way she sees fit.

Suddenly this teacher has no ability to take care of matters that prohibit, in her eyes, education. In a school. When I was in school, no student whined if a teacher told him not to swear. It was understood that you walked into that teacher's "house" when you walked into their class, complete with house rules. Whether or not you consider taking the Lord's name in vain, that teacher's ability to keep an orderly class, and therefore educate your children has diminished. That teacher, hands tied, is forced into mediocrity and a lack of discipline.

19th century teachers could cane a kid's bottom publicly for failure to spell "flog" correctly. Now overly concerned parents have steered teachers toward mediocrity by saying discipline should remain in the home, where discipline is in scant supply, I imagine. If you don't like what a teacher does, home school. You have full control over your children in such a situation. But if you want to send your children off to surrogate instructors, you better be prepared to allow those teachers a little influence over your child, including, yes, disciplining them when they do something the teacher finds offensive or someone else in the class could find offensive.

Is this the way to to shape our kids education? Or should teachers be allowed to punish children for doing things that even their parents might say are OK in their book?

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