Violence in schools is a reflection of the wider society
Stabroek News
March 14, 2004

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Dear Editor,

S Persaud is justified to be chagrined over the degeneration in social behaviour in Guyana, and more specifically in our schools. It is indeed lamentable that a student today would even contemplate lifting a hand in violence against a teacher. But it is equally reprehensible for a teacher to use violence against a student, disabling him in the process. Violence seems to have become the primary choice of action to respond to factual, perceived or imaginary wrongs. And what is happening in the schools is merely a reflection of the current trends in the wider society.

We who grew up in another generation had the benefit of a safe and learning conducive environment throughout our formal education. Teachers were firm but courteous, took an interest in their students beyond their sojourn in the classroom, and knew the parents and guardians of every child in his or her class. They whipped your butt when such punishment was required, but did so with moderation and without malice or ill-will. I had a teacher named Rudder who would come to the corner where you hang out to whip your butt for skulking. And whenever I encountered him long after I had left school and had settled in an occupation, he made no bones of the fact that he still considered it his prerogative to whip my butt if he heard or witnessed any misbehaviour on my part.

And the strange thing about it is that I never questioned his prerogative to do just that. As students we placed our teachers on pedestals. We looked up to them in awe and admiration. They were institutions of dignity and knowledge, role models of behaviour for our young and developing minds. But those days are long gone now, replaced by an era where Teacher/Student violence just reflects the pattern in attitudes and behaviour of the larger society.

The buck stops at the Ministry of Education. But given the laissez-faire response to the allegation of a student whose arm was broken by a teacher, I wonder if that department is even listening.

Yours faithfully,

Keith R Williams