IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE (Education in Crisis)
Today’s education programs and practices are teaching students that that it’s all about them. We don’t necessarily say it, but we practice it in our schools. We redevelop programs to suit the preferences of students. Now don’t get me wrong… there is a place for altering things when there is a definite need for it in the education of a child, but we seem to find an excuse for every single behavior today. We have even got an accepted condition called DEFIANCE DISORDER. In my day that was called being naughty and you were punished for it. Today you are molly coddled and “disciplined” by doing exactly what that child wants – to be taken out of the class environment and given special attention. That child gets away with not adhering to the rules of the school. And when that student does do something that is expected of them anyway, they are rewarded. This happens while the other students are doing the right thing all the time. And that is confusing for them. So many children who do the right thing have their education compromised, while those who choose not to work are taking up all the teachers’ time (filling in disciplinary forms and following disciplinary procedures). The excuses that are presented for this type of behavior also blows me away. There are so many people in the world that are struggling. I taught in Malawi, where there were 11 and 12 year-old children who lost both their parents to AIDS. They had no income and nobody to look after them. They even had younger siblings to look after. Yet, they walked a few kilometers to school every day, had their work done and had the utmost respect for their teachers. They never needed to build a relationship with their teachers to make it possible to respect them. They never complained about their circumstances and they never used it as an excuse. I taught in schools in Taiwan, where children shared with me that their parents didn’t have time for them and didn’t seem to care much for them. They grew up feeling unloved, yet didn’t use it as an excuse to behave badly. They had the utmost respect for their teachers and worked very hard. I grew up in a dysfunctional family for a long time, I was sexually abused by one of my school teachers and I never used that as an excuse to be disrespectful and hate everyone around me because of my circumstances. I chose to work hard and try to make something of my life. Why do we allow students to act disrespectful and then blame their circumstances for it? It’s a load of crock.
We are told that we, as teachers, need to gain the trust of the children before they will respect us. It’s an issue of waiting for them, until they are ready to accept us. Here is some news for those teaching in Christian schools – there’s no biblical backup for that. In fact, the Bible says the opposite
“For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. 2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. 3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. 4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. 5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.” (Romans 13)
As Christians we love to talk about how we are in a place for a reason and that it isn’t by chance that we are at this school, or living in this town, or experience this difficulty. Well, if that’s what we are saying, then we need to re-read Hebrews 13. Teachers are in that position at that school for a reason. And that teaching position is a position of authority. When teachers understand that this authority is not used in the wrong way, but in a way that benefits and grows their students and in a way that God intended them to use it, it needs to be respected. But that is also something that the children need to understand. Children are treated like adults when they are still children. Children need guidance, boundaries and discipline. Those are not swear words! They are things that we will do if we really care about the children! You don’t have the best interest of children at heart when you accept their actions or think you are disciplining them by having a wishy- washy chat with them. Children, like everyone else, must know that there are consequences to their actions. God is not only a God of grace – He is also a God of justice. There are consequences to the things we do. For God to forgive us, we need to turn from the wrong things and follow him. When I do mess up, there are still consequences.
- The consequence of Moses’ was disobedience was that he didn’t get to enter the promised land. I think that was a bit drastic after everything that he had been through and after all the times that he was obedient, but that is God’s justice. God still loved Moses, but he understood the importance of discipline and that it was a way of showing His love for Moses.
- The consequence of David’s disobedience was that his sons would drift away and even want to kill their father. This is a bit harsh for all the times that he was obedient. But that is God’s justice. There are consequences to our actions. God still loved David. In fact, He disciplined David exactly because of that reason. He even called him “A man after My own heart.”
God says that He disciplines those that He loves. Who are we to think that we have a better way to do things. When my sons were growing up and they were about to put their hand on a hot plate on the stove, I would pull them away. I wouldn’t plead with them to please not do that and stand by to watch them hurt themselves. As my boys are growing up, we limit their time they can spend on devices. It’s not a discussion or a debate. Those are the rules and that’s what happens. We are a very happy family and our boys can sit and talk at the dinner table with us, without us trying to drag a conversation out of them. This happens because there are certain rules that need to be followed. If you see someone walking across a road and they don’t see a car that is about to knock them over, what are you going to do? I know that, because you care for them as a fellow human being, you are going to do whatever it takes to save them. There is no way that you are going to ask them nicely to step out of the road. You are not going to debate with them what they would like to do in this situation.
Why then, are we seeing the world becoming more and more messed up and we continue to think that things are working the way that we are doing them. We see that juvenile crime is on the rise and we still think that the education system is working. How come, when we see how respect for others is basically none existent, we hope it’s going to improve yet we don’t do anything about it in schools. We are not going to save any of our students by debating with them. You don’t go on an international flight and question the way that customs do things. You don’t refuse to adhere to the rules of the airline because you don’t like it. Those rules have been put in place for a reason. They are there to make sure that all passengers are safe and that all travelers have an enjoyable experience. A policeman doesn’t debate with you whether you are wrong or right when you do the wrong thing. He doesn’t let you off the hook because you don’t like police cars. You don’t play a soccer match and do as you please on the field. You abide by the rules or you get a red card and are sent off. There’s no discussion. There’s no debate. There’s no asking, “What would you like to do?” That’s the way the world works. Why are we creating something in schools that is not preparing our students for the world out there? We are wrapping them up in cotton wool and when they leave school, they don’t know how to cope because people out there aren’t going to make such a big fuss over what they want.
We will never get a different result if we keep doing things the same way.
These days there also seems to be a blur between who is the teacher and who is the student. If the student can be the teacher and the teacher needs to be the student (as seems to be promoted today) why on earth did I waste 4 years of my life at university. Why do you even need to study and pay an exorbitant amount of money to become a teacher. I am tired of walking into classes where children talk to me as if I am a piece of dirt. It is heart-wrenching to walk into a class and kids continue to do what they are doing without even acknowledging the fact that you are there. And when you do reprimand them for their behavior, you are told to “calm down” and told “I won’t do that!” The comment that school is not about the teachers, but about the students is something I also hear a lot. Any successful company’s CEO will tell you that to have a great company, you need to look after your staff. Of course, it is about the students, but for those students to benefit, it must also be about the teachers. Why would I want to give my best if I don’t feel that I have the support of my employer? How can anyone keep going and giving their all when it’s all about emptying yourself every day and you are slowly broken down and degraded by the way you are treated. That might seem normal for modern-day teacher but it’s not the way it’s meant to be and it’s not benefitting anyone.
God has created us with a specific passion. That passion should be the thing that keeps us awake at night because we don’t want to miss a moment, and makes us want to jump out of bed in the morning. When that isn’t happening, it’s time to reevaluate things. I used to love teaching. I used to spend hours connecting with children of all ages. There was discipline in my classes. There were boundaries that children knew they weren’t allowed to cross. There were definite consequences to actions. None of those things stopped the students from respecting me and connecting with me. In fact, those things contributed to it. They made my students feel safe, valued and cared for. I am still in contact with so many students that I used to teach. Many of them don’t have the same beliefs that I have. Many of them are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist and more, yet they all benefitted from a structured, disciplined classroom environment. I loved and respected each of my student in the same way, but they were all treated the same. I didn’t treat some different because they didn’t like being quiet in class. When there are rules, they need to apply to everyone and there needs to be consistency. As soon as inconsistency appears, it becomes confusing for the students and chaos will set in.
Teachers who struggle to work in many of today’s schools and decide to leave, are seen as weak. It has nothing to do with weakness. It has to do with a choice! The choice to step out of a toxic environment that is destroying their zeal and passion for life. Someone once said that the saddest thing that can happen in life is not death, it’s when your zest for life dies in you while you are still alive.
It’s time to do what’s best for our students and that means showing them love and guidance through discipline and structure.