Posts Tagged ‘Laws’

I’m Glad I’m a Teacher and Not a Parking Inspector

October 31, 2011

Today I was fined by a parking officer for parking in a permit zone. I had only left my car for a few minutes, and clearly that’s all it takes.

On my way back from the shops I noticed a parking inspector processing a ticket by my car. I asked him what I did wrong. I pointed out the 1 hour parking sign. He pointed to another small sign among others that notified those with good eyesight that the spot was a permit zone on weekends but fine during the week.

I told him that I was only gone for a second and that I had made an innocent mistake. He didn’t pay attention. My daughter cried sensing something was wrong and becoming unsettled by the man’s presence. The man ignored her and kept on typing.

$75 – that’s what the tiny mistake cost me!

I realise that the man was doing his job. He probably has a wife and family to take care of and bills to pay. I don’t blame him for his actions or diminish his right to take on this job.

But ultimately, I’m so glad that I am a teacher and not a parking officer.

Parking officers serve no real value to the community. They are employed by council workers who should have enough revenue to waste through our overpriced rates. But no, through parking infringements, they have another steam of revenue they can waste in good measure.

Nobody is glad to see a parking inspector walking around. Nobody goes to lengths to welcome them or engage in small talk. Their job is to prey on people’s mistake and slug for an inordinate amount of money.

Teaching can be so much more than that. We can represent all that’s positive about this world. We can be mentors and role models. We can help children grow to reach their potential.

Unfortunately, we can also do a lot of damage. If we are not good at our job or our heart isn’t in it, we can be the manifestation of what is wrong with this world.

That’s the great challenge for teachers. To be the polar opposite of a parking inspector.

Why Be Flexible When You Can Be Politically Correct?

April 5, 2011

There used to be a time when educators were self-directed.  They could decide how to teach, when to discipline and were given the opportunity to do their job according to their own unique style.

Not any more.

Everything is dictated and imposed, so little is left up to the educators.  There is such a lack of trust in the gut instincts and methodology of teachers and school communities, that Governments feel they must intervene.  What we are left with is political correctness gone mad!

Take this story for example:

CHILDCARE workers who send tantrum-throwing toddlers to “time out” risk hefty fines under national childcare laws to come into force next year.

New regulations will expose childcare centres to penalties if children are required to take part in religious or cultural activities, such as Christmas tree decoration or Easter egg hunts.

Childcare supervisors risk personal fines for the first time, under the national legislation being adopted by state and territory governments.

Centres could be fined as much as $50,000, and supervisors $10,000, for failing to ensure children are adequately supervised, or for using “inappropriate discipline” to keep order.

Centres will be banned from using …  “any discipline that is unreasonable in the circumstances”.

The Education and Care Services National Act, which has been passed by Victoria as the “host jurisdiction” and will be replicated by other states and territories, does not define “unreasonable” discipline.

But draft regulations with the legislation show childcare supervisors risk $2000 fines for “separating” children.

Supervisors must “ensure that a child being educated and cared for by the service is not separated from other children for any reason other than illness or an accident”, the regulations state.

Herein lies the problem.  Governments know precious little about education.  Here is just a few examples of how they’ve got it wrong:

  1. “Separating children” is often an essential method of conflict resolution and discipline.  If a child is threatening another child/children, they must be separated.  You can’t allow a child (regardless of age) who is in an irrational or heated frame of mind to be among other children. It is simply a safety imperative.
  2. Similarly, separation can be quite effective for teaching students that every action has a consequence.  When a child misbehaves and is forced to sit out of a game or activity for a period of time, it teaches the child that privileges come with responsible behaviour.
  3. To not define “unreasonable” discipline is just ridiculous.  How can you pass a law about something that isn’t even defined?  How can you have already thought up the fine before you have properly defined the offence?
  4. What is wrong with giving childcare centres the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not to conduct Easter egg hunts?  They are not stupid.  If they have a large non-Christian demographic, there is no way they would ever consider such an activity.  But what if they were entirely Christian in make-up?  What if the parents were uniformly comfortable with their children taking part in Easter Egg Hunts?  No,  the Government says they will fine you  regardless.

Political correctness stifles those in the know from doing their job properly.  It stops teachers from injecting their own personal style and prevents innovators from providing our educational system with much-needed positive change.  It says that all childcare centres and schools must be run in the same way, with the same harsh and uncompromising rules without any thought given to the makeup or cultural uniqueness of the institution.

Political correctness is useless and counter productive.  Instead of these harsh and illogical rules, teachers and childcare workers need to be encouraged to be flexible, sensible and sensitive to the welfare of their students and their families.

Teachers Who Beat Kids Should Be Put Away!

March 14, 2011

Please join me on my mission to eradicate legalised corporal punishment from our classrooms.  In Australia a teacher is not allowed to hit, beat or physically handle a student.  It is against the law, and so it should be.  The fact that some other countries don’t practice the same policy mistifies me.  A teacher should never be given the permission to physically discipline their students.  Such an allowance gives bad teachers the right to lash out at any student that gives them a hard time.  That is hardly what you would call “quality education.”

Stories like this one sicken me:

Picture this. It’s 10am in a classroom at a primary school and a teacher is handing out science test marks to the pupils. Among the children sits a 13-year-old boy who is an excellent student and an athlete, generally a boy who could be classified “a good child”.

But he has failed this particular test. The teacher tells him to stay behind after class.

His heart lurches and he gets a knot in his stomach because he knows what that means. He’s going to get a beating. Before spanking him, the teacher tells the pupil, “My daddy beat me and I beat my children, so I’m going to beat you.”

The boy walks away with not only a bruised bottom, but a bruised ego and tears in his eyes.

This scene is not from a school in some small village in “backward Africa”. Nope, this happened in a school in Alabama.

According to the US Department of Education, more than 200,000 school kids encounter corporal punishment every year across the US. And those are just the ones the department knows about. Some cases go unreported. Testimony at congressional hearings has revealed that up to 20,000 kids a year request medical treatment, mostly for bruising and broken blood vessels after being physically punished in school.

That is an awful statistic.  How can this be allowed anywhere, let alone in the United States?  How can teacher’s get away with bruising their students?  For every medical practitioner that is called on to treat a victim of corporal punishment, a policeman should be called on to put the offending teacher away!

But based on the current state of play, that scenario is a long way off for some states:

Corporal punishment in schools by teachers with a paddle (a wooden board), belt or strap is legal in 20 states. While 28 states have outlawed it outright, the US Supreme Court has ruled it legal.

The majority of the states that still allow teachers to spank kids are in the mid-west and in the south of the country. States such as Missouri, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and, to my surprise, Florida, are said to use corporal punishment more frequently than others.

The mother of the Alabama boy is suing the superintendent of schools and the teacher for her son’s spanking. She’s angry because, by law, you can’t hit a dog and you can’t hit a prisoner, but you are allowed to spank children.

There are guidelines for how teachers can spank kids, which is more than I can say for when I started school in the ’80s, but there are bound to be some teachers who will do whatever they like.

Of course there are teachers that exploit this situation.  Whilst I would like to believe that all teachers care about their students there are enough out there that grow resentful and irrational over the years.  These teachers can not be trusted to make decisions in the best interests of their students.

And to those that think that fear of such a punishment brings out the best in students, I say this.  Fear doesn’t bring out the best in anyone!  If a teacher can’t control their class, they can approach an expert for advice or quit.  If they feel they have to burst their students’ blood vessels to gain law and order, they ought to feel completely and utterly ashamed of themselves.

It’s 2011!  Time to wear our belts, consign paddles to PE lessons and throw away the straps in the bin!

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