Discipline is not a rude word

If you haven’t done your homework a teacher can have a harsh word, but it is all in vain if that is not backed up by the parent

Being friends to your children, no matter what, would be abdicating from your responsibility and ultimately you’d be short-changing your child
Being friends to your children, no matter what, would be abdicating from your responsibility and ultimately you’d be short-changing your child

Last December, the British education watchdog which reports to Parliament, wrote a scathing report on the current situation in British schools.

The main talking point from the report was not the pass rate, curricula or other things one would expect. The headlines were all about one important message that came out of the report: parents should not abdicate their responsibilities towards their children.

The report described a situation where, often, parents were disinterested in the responsibilities and duties that they hold towards their child. It was a remarkable affront towards this problem, and the very direct manner which was exposed was derived from a lot of anger that was coming from educators in schools all over Britain.

The report also spoke about the fact that schools should not be expected to counter societal ills on their own, and that the core responsibility of schools is to aid students grow and prosper in their education above all else.

I think these are sentiments which educators in Malta can relate to. I often hear horror stories of parents trying to jump in and defend their children’s inexcusable bad behaviour in schools. School staff often have to deal with a lot of this. In my time if you did something wrong, your parents wouldn’t even want to hear your side of the story. It was an automatic reprimand. I don’t agree with the physical punishment of the past. I don’t think we should go back to those ugly days. But I do believe that discipline is important. People nowadays are even scared of using this word, almost as if it’s a rude word.

Some may consider it from a past age, but I find nothing wrong in having discipline in our schools. I think there’s a balance to be found, and more importantly context. There are some cases where authority and discipline are very important in the management of some children. I do believe that discipline, warmth and respect can co-exist and are not exclusive to each other. Ultimately, it is for their own good.

We do have elements in our schools which have had a difficult upbringing. There are plenty of social problems and challenges across Malta and Gozo. We’d be fools to say it doesn’t exist, and trust me when I saw this is there in all corners of the country.

A lot of parents like to have a good relationship with their children and be nice to them. But it cannot be a case of being nice no matter what.

When they fall short of what is expected of them we have to tell them so, and not behave as if nothing has happened. All of us made mistakes when we were young, but we’ve learnt from those mistakes because there was a responsible person to tell us off. Being friends to your children, no matter what, would be abdicating from your responsibility and ultimately you’d be short-changing your child.

There is a lot to do on this aspect and unfortunately it is in schools where the brunt of all this ends up. These are all challenges that our teachers, LSEs and school staff face every single day. As government we can come up with policies and measures, but none of that will replace the role of the parents and the responsibility towards that child. No tablet and no investment will replace telling your child off if he or she behaves badly.

If you haven’t done your homework a teacher can have a harsh word, but it is all in vain if that is not backed up by the parent. We can do better and we should do better. When our children have grown up and matured, they will respect us even more for helping them understand the difference between right and wrong. For helping them grow into good people who care for the community they live in. We owe this much to them.

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