Disciplinary teachers, which effectively means all teachers, have long been driven to the wall by the misbehaviour of some students, some of them bordering on what may be termed criminal conduct. NSTP file pic

THE National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) is understandably frustrated.

Disciplinary teachers, which effectively means all teachers, have long been driven to the wall by the misbehaviour of some students, some of them bordering on what may be termed criminal conduct.

The Cikgu Azizan Manap case, as it has come to be called, is described by NUTP as the culmination of years of frustration faced by teachers.

In the words of NUTP, Malaysian parents are fast becoming litigious. No detention classes, no standing in or outside the classroom. And, so the list goes on.

Hence NUTP’s call to the Education Ministry to issue new guidelines to enable teachers to know what permissible punishments they can mete out when faced with indiscipline in school.

The guidelines last issued in 1983 has more “don’ts” than “dos”.

To be fair to the Education Ministry, some of the don’ts do make sense.

Take the case of snipping off the hair as a form of punishment or painting or writing on the face of the child.

These and similar disciplinary measures are clearly a no-no because it will affect the self-esteem of the child and may morph into something more monstrous.

The teachers helplessly ask: What can they do if the child repeatedly fails to complete his homework?

Perhaps, the answer lies in looking at disciplinary problems at school holistically.

And, that means examining the role of three key players in the game of teaching and learning.

There is the parent, the child and the teachers. Mending misbehaviour requires triangulation of the three. Parents — mums and dads — must cultivate a loving relationship with the child.

A child who is listened to and cared for is a nurturing ground for well-disciplined behaviour.

This very same behaviour will be carried over to the school and peers. And, teachers need not do much in the way of discipline for children from such homes.

Of course, there will be a few errant teachers who may breach this relationship of trust.

But, these are errant behaviours, not the norm for teachers. So, the first line of correction is at home, and, that falls squarely on the shoulders of the parents.

Some parents are too busy chasing their dreams. What they are saying in effect is that their child is not worth their attention.

If the parents give their children time and attention, they will reciprocate that attention with love.

They will carry this love to the school, to their teachers and peers. This circle of discipline will in time widen, the ripples of positive behaviour travelling far and wide.

Psychologists will say discipline is not about punishment. Perhaps they are right, but only up to a point.

What happens when you are faced with a student who challenges the teacher with something that borders on a crime? Surely, this child is not your normal child.

It is perhaps akin to the glue-sniffing child that Cikgu Azizan was faced with.

The number of such errant students is growing, and it is not only a concern to the teachers but to society at large.

If they graduate to be a menace on machine, it will be hard to heal.

The Education Ministry may want to come up with more “dos” than “don’ts”, this time.

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