How things have changed, I remember the discipline I benefited from in my days at school
Stabroek News
February 8, 2002

Dear Editor,

On Tuesday 29th January I attended a term level meeting at the Richard Ishmael Secondary School. The main purpose of this meeting was to apprise parents of some of the problems being encountered with students and to advise how they could assist.

It was reported that students are usually given homework and other assignments but many fail to turn in the completed work and are quite unconcerned about the non submission. I sat on my bench and I wondered.

Another teacher lamented the fact that many students placed more emphasis on paid extra lessons rather than the free tuition given in schools. The classroom is considered a place to play and relax. Again I sat on my bench and I wondered.

Parents were told that the Ministry of Education informed the school's administration that if a report was received that a student was flogged in school, the head mistress and the teacher involved would be sent home pending investigations. I remained rooted to my bench and I wondered.

I asked myself what are we nurturing for the future. The indiscipline in some homes is now being transferred to the classroom as some children show total disregard for schoolwork and the teachers.

The debate on corporal punishment goes on and while the popular view is that it is barbaric and constitutes child abuse, many opponents flog their children at home. Consider the teacher who is conscientious and wants to facilitate learning. She turns up to work, on time and the students stroll in at their own time. She asks for the homework, few did it. She places work on the chalkboard and proceeds to check the homework handed in. There is giggle, talking and open play. She can talk but remember no whip

It is for this reason that some teachers have adopted the attitude that " I am here to help you learn but if you don't care, neither do I".

I am not a pessimist but the reality is, that many students on this road of indiscipline are courting failure in life. Parents, therefore, need to let teachers know that they support their efforts and are behind them in the pursuit of education for their children.

During my years at the St. Philips Anglican School I felt the discipline of teachers like Ms Borse, Yellery, Patterson, Holder and Mr. Hugh Dyer. Headmaster Basil Arno saw that discipline was maintained.

The wild cane was evident, learning took place (not under duress), there was respect for teachers and parents never clashed with teachers nor students.

Today it is woefully different. If parents and children abuse neighbours, using expletives, what chance is there for teachers to enforce discipline in schools? I have witnessed what sparing the rod has done for children and I contend that once it is humanely done, students benefit through enforced discipline because they show respect for authority and are easier guided.

I saw Mrs Holder about fifteen years ago and while reminding her who I was, I told her that I felt her cane in school. Her reply to me was, "I'm sure it made you a better person."

It sure did, miss, it sure did.

Yours faithfully,

L. Dunsford Dickson