The School Rules Change

I‘ve been getting into a lot of conversations with teachers about students and how they have changed over the year. It reminds me of that Baz Lurham, and specifically the lines,

“Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.”

I experienced it myself teaching in City Year. I thought, “Heck, I was never like this in school! Back in my day…..” Though I think I made a legit point when I would say no elementary school kid would cut class back in my day, unlike my students during City Year.

I was informed that as of last week, school corporal punishment finally became illegal in Seoul. Some of my older teachers were disapointed..I could see it in their eyes how they don’t know how to formally react to this. How else would you control them right? And I think of this…coming from this new teacher perspective….and I kinda sympathize. Day in and day out I am trying my best, blood sweat and tears right? And then I have those students who could care less and will sleep through class and not pay any attention. Or the two classes I had in a row that basically ALL failed to do the homework. What do I do with that? I can see why teachers feel the urge to just take it out on them physically. Not that it’s right or works for that matter, considering some of the boy’s at Jodi’s school just take the beating and not care if it means carrying fewer books to school.

And I say all this, coming from a school that doesn’t hit it’s students….being an all-girls school has its perks. Jodi’s students do not fair so well. Though it seems its usually the same bunch getting punished day in and day out.

Teachers blame poor parenting. Parents blame society. It’s a sick cycle that doesn’t seem stoppable. Because of the extremes that can occur when you give a teacher this small amount of power, it becomes a danger to students and their safety.What started this review of school corporal punishment was an incident in which a teacher and a student ended up physically fighting in the classroom.

When the teacher tried to take the notebook, the student protested. The teacher hit her on the head and the student revolted, saying, “Is it right for a teacher to hit a student? Just teach!”

 The ban only applies to Seoul, a move that urges teachers to discipline students by giving them community service, or take extra classes.

“Some could say that corporal punishment may be temporarily effective but it cannot be a fundamental solution,” Chung said. “Only a small number of students cause troubles and we aim to help them truly revise their behaviour on their own, rather through a stopgap physical measure.”

 I say this all, with my American-colored glasses. My perspective, my experience and my culture. I try and see it from their perspective, and conclude that usually because of the extremes (as with most things) you cannot blame a whole system, just individuals. But the danger to students and the lack of regulation in this circumstance require the law to step in and protect them.

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