Monday, September 14, 2009

The need for sociable behaviour

Should unsociable behaviour be accepted in our schools?

I suppose this is the question that arises when we consider the role of schools in the community. Is it the primary role of schools to teach curriculum, do schools have a responsibility to teach children the limits imposed on citizens post-childhood or is it primarily the role of parents?

The Curriculum framework and its values places the answer firmly, for better or worse, with schools teaching sociability, with some parents unable to fulfil this role for many reasons. If a child comes socially ill-equipped for school, then it is up to the school to enable the child.

The statement, "this is the home environment mimicked at school " and "he only reacts this way until he knows a teacher" I don't really accept. To swear at the wrong person outside school or threaten violence with little provocation is to invite violence or incarceration in return. To condone such behaviour in school is to ill-equip these children for their time post school. A teacher is the token of authority in a school and all teachers deserve the same respect, whether known to the student or not, in the same way a policeman or judge is given the same respect in the real world. The alternative is to bring the justice system into schools - something to resist as it is a downward spiral or students to continue challenging authority in later life with dire consequences.

With declining community values, the acceptance of swearing and abusive language around (if not at) teachers, the abundance of emotional bullying by students of peers, the lack of effective strategies to deal with such bullying and the deferral of action until critical incidents occur is not teaching these kids respect for authority (in fact it is diminishing it), improving respect for others or ultimately creating respect for themselves.

I suppose it comes back to the niceness aspect of social interaction and the drift of community away from respect of the nice and considerate person to the glamorisation of the abusive idiot. Hopefully the pendulum will again swing back soon.

Sooner than later - as the perception that state schools have a bullying problem and an inability to deal effectively with students with social issues scares many parents away from our sector.

It is worrying.

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