Dealing with the lack of discipline and respect in schools
This is arguably the biggest and most difficult to solve problem that we have in our schools today. Face it, many kids are disrespectful, lazy, and lack any real ambition or drive. They expect life to be easy and for everything to be handed to them. This problem isn’t isolated to the school environment. It’s pervasive throughout our society. I attended high school from 1988 – 90. I look back now and feel ashamed at how we treated teachers then, but that pales in comparison to today.
So, how do we fix it? How do we bring back respect? How do we encourage kids to work hard and strive to achieve? There’s no one magic answer, but there are a few things that can be done to get things moving in the right direction.
1) Recognize excellence. We encourage, recognize and reward excellence in sports. Cheering crowds, trophies, rides through town after a big tournament on a fire engine… We place a lot of pressure on kids to do their best in sports and to win. Kids have been known to cry when they lose the big game. Do we treat academics in the same way? We all remember the basketball stars – who remembers the name of the valedictorian those years? In our local school gym there are signs and banners commemorating scoring records and wins, but nothing about any academic success. The drive for success in sports is something that needs to be brought back into education. Kids should WANT to do their best.
2) Command respect. Too many teachers are trying to be friends with their students. This was the case when I was in school and I’m still seeing it today with my kids’ teachers. The ones that have the biggest problem controlling their classrooms are the ones who want to be liked by the kids. They encourage kids to call them by their first name. They share their personal life with their students. Eventually the kids become familiar to the point where they feel they are peers with their teacher. When that happens they no longer respect the teacher as an authority figure and basically ignore any attempt by the teacher to keep things under control. Teachers should be Mr. or Mrs. X. Keep your private life private. Don’t forget, these are kids; consistency and clarity are key. Kids constantly test their boundaries and it is important to establish those boundaries. It’s not my job to be my kids’ friend, it’s my job to be their parent. Teachers, it’s not your job to be their friend, it’s your job to be their teacher.
3) Enforce discipline. “Back in the day”, there were paddles, switches, rulers across the hands… We all know that the squishy liberals took corporal punishment out of the schools a long time ago. It took awhile for kids to adjust. For example, I remember a paddle hanging in the front of the bus and another in the principal’s office. I never saw it used, but we always thought it could be. Kids today know it can’t be and won’t be used. They know they can’t be touched. What we can do is to put pressure on the parents to deal with the discipline problem before it gets to the school. Schools should be suspending and expelling students that are violent, disrepectful or disruptive. Send the kids home and refuse to let them back in the door until the parents agree to make them behave. If things don’t change, their parents need to find somewhere else to send them, like a school for problem children. They aren’t learning anything at school anyway, why have them bring down the other students around them?
As I said, these aren’t magic bullets that will immediately fix the respect and discipline problem. Things didn’t go bad overnight and they won’t be fixed overnight either. It’s a good start however, and if we don’t do something to turn things around, it’s just going to get worse.
Next installment: Teachers’ Unions