When we were little adults were in charge and we did what we were told – well most of the time! We may not have liked what we were asked to do and may have grumbled a bit and (or a lot if you ask my mother) but we did it. We did it without necessarily understanding why but we respected the adults and trusted that they were telling us what to do for good reason.
Teachers in school were definitely in charge. I would not have dreamed of shouting out. I would not have considered saying, “I don’t want to do that.” There is no way on this earth that I would have considered throwing my work on the floor and running out of the classroom. If I had done any of these things I would not have relished the thought of going home after my parents had been told. The head teacher in my small village school used to have a definite way of getting respect – every Friday afternoon he would walk round the school and ask for the names of children who had not shown respect, they would then walk to the back of the class, lean over a chair and he would spank them with his slipper. I’m not advocating returning to an age where respect was perhaps closer to fear but we did know who was in charge.
Nowadays some children seem to brought up to be their parents’ friends and equals rather than being children who are loved, nurtured, guided and brought up to know that they are the children and the adults are the adults. We work with some children who are consulted on everything in their houses and expect that their opinion is the most valued opinion. It may work for those families but unfortunately when they walk into a class of 30 children several of whom expect their opinion to be the most valued one something has to give. They are used to being equals and not used to showing respect to adults.
We have some amazing teachers in our school, they all go the extra mile for the children. Most of the children are keen, willing to learn, ready to follow instructions. The shame is that those who have not been brought up to show respect find it harder to accept that the teacher is in charge. They are not unintelligent children but they are not necessarily reaching their potential.
I do not think that this problem is just a problem in the area where I live, I think it is endemic across the country. I think there is a general lack of respect creeping in everywhere or perhaps I’m just getting old!