“It is easier to build strong children than to fix broken men.”– Frederick Douglass
By Yvonne Sam
Social and Political Commentator
Lately, schools have been the center of discussion, regarding their conversion to scenes of abuse and crime. This is in addition to public schools falling behind in other subjects.
However, there is one topic that is routinely admitted from any discussion, aimed at resolving our education dilemma. That vital and critical component is the “disciplinary” shortcomings and realities that exist in far too many of our schools.
Moreover, this critical aspect of the teaching-learning process is still being hindered and remedial measures need to be applied. Yes, the number-one problem in (too many of) our schools is discipline.
There are still too many disruptive students and uncaring parents in our midst. Too often, these students are tolerated and allowed to go unchecked, and too often, they prevent teachers from teaching and students from learning. An answer must be found if improvement is to take place.
The truth is, discipline problems occur for an assortment of reasons, beginning with family upbringing. The students need help, and parents need to be held accountable for the disruptive conduct and flagrant behavior of their children.
Many of these children get very little support and involvement from their parents and other caregivers. They come to school unprepared: lack of sleep, nourishment, nurturing, supervision, and the like. They come to school without pencil, paper or book, lacking a thirst for knowledge and a hunger for learning.
Some of these issues/problems are beyond the scope of the classroom teacher. Correspondingly, these students act out and become disruptive in the classroom to the detriment of everyone else. They lack motivation and fail to understand the importance of getting a “good education.” Too often, parents, and in some cases grandparents, do not care, or lack the capacity to bring their children/ grandchildren under control.
For a brief moment, imagine how much more progress could be made with our children, if we could only eradicate this “discipline problem.” Parental involvement and family support are key components of the “education triad”: student-parent-teacher. One cannot overstress the fact that it requires all three to ensure a quality education for all of our children. Our children need to be, and must be, encouraged to perform and achieve at their maximum potential.
According to the age-old adage, it takes a whole village to raise a child. However, I hold, firmly and tenaciously, the belief that the parents/family of that child need to be at the center and forefront of that village. This calls for the parents/family to give love, support and guidance. Only they can ensure that this is done – daily, regularly, consistently and unrelentingly. This should be (come) their “labor of love.”
My contribution to this matter is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, as the issue is highly intricate and innately complex. Furthermore, it must be brought out in the open and dealt with. Alternatively, we will miss an opportunity to “make things better” for all of our children.
Therefore, let us begin the new school year by doing our part for all of our children, remembering that classrooms are centers of education, and home is where discipline starts. The seeds of discipline are sowed in the home, the flowers of discipline are displayed in the school and the fruits of discipline are reaped by the community at large.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.