Against whipping of children To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
December 25, 2001

I am a little surprised that some letter writers continue to promote the whipping of children by teachers. We are supposed to learn all the time and to move forward on the higher road. I would like to remind everyone concerned that a society (people) sets up schools to educate its youths so that they can function effectively later on as adults.

For those who think that whipping is necessary in schools, I submit to you the following: You continue to promote a vicious and uncivilised cycle in society, you create a child abuser, a wife/husband abuser later on, a brother/sister abuser, etc. etc. In short, you promote violence in children's lives. Then you wonder why there is so much violence in the society! This simple connection can be observed by anyone. A person (student) should be touched with her / his consent only and in an appropriate manner. This is the first rung of your freedom ladder. This differentiates between having and not having rights in society.

Schools should provide students with the necessary tools to evaluate information and to make the (right) decisions which they can be proud of later on and from which they and others will not have to endure any suffering. Too often decisions are ready-made for students to comply with them. Rules should be drawn up with input from students. Such involvement in their own affairs of life, teaches them to ponder their thoughts rather than acting in a compulsive manner. They should be taught that they will be held responsible and accountable for all of their actions. It is very important that they are aware of the consequences that follow their actions.

Certainly, there will be individual students who will refuse to abide by some rules. If these students consistently ignore their teacher's instructions, this should be seen as a red flag. This calls for parental involvement and intervention so that the teacher may understand what else is going on in that child's life. Parents should feel obligated to positively respond to a teacher's notification at all times. Such multi-way discussions involving the student will bring out the reason (s) for most misbehaviours in students. This activity can and do achieve the desired win-win situation in the end.

I was surprised to read of a teacher who claimed that merely appearing with a cane in a noisy classroom creates a quiet atmosphere. That person is not a teacher but an enforcer. Such behaviour by both teachers and students have undesirable ramifications in the whole of society. A teacher should not show anger in the presence of children. She/he should calmly and persistently ask polite questions until the situation has been clarified. This also teaches the children how to behave in like manner.

Teachers should expect errant behaviour (speech and actions) from children and not vice-versa. With all that abstract information being downloaded on children, surely their brains must start ticking in some form or fashion. Most of the information is irrelevant anyway. Here in Minnesota, I have asked fellow employees about winter and spring wheat, the corn, hog and dairy belts, etc. and they wonder what I was talking about!

A teacher in Guyana should regard herself / himself as a farmer. The farmer has to prepare his fields before sowing the seeds. He has to tend the vseedlings as they grow up by ensuring that they have the desired amount of water as they grow and mature, to use the correct chemicals to control pests and weeds and to apply the appropriate fertilizer at each stage of growth, etc. etc. It will not look good if the farmer is applying fertilizer to a crop that is overrun with weeds. Neither will he look good ( sane ) if his plants are infested with insect pests and he is whipping the plants. Worst of all, after the farmer fertilizes the plants (giving information to children in a class) and the plants sprout new leaves and branches (children get new ideas and act on new perceptions) he cuts off the branches and hopes to have healthy growing plants (children are whipped for reacting to new experiences and ideas around and inside of them).

Congratulations to the PPP/C government, specifically the Minister of Education, for abolishing the "Common Entrance Examination" in the near future. It is the correct thing to do, to modernise and streamline the system of education and its delivery to young Guyanese.
Balwant Prasad.