Value the Student, not the mistake!

 Schools claim to be teaching “values needed to become a part of a democratic society” – “values” – to me, this is a “heavy word” suggestive of concepts like responsibility, integrity, openness to new people, new ideas, and a recognition that students may make mistakes. What lesson will a student learn when a punishment for an action is much greater than the crime? Is it wise to teach students that one slip is never allowed? I am not perfect, and when I tutor I may be “encouraging excellence in those I teach” but  – why do some school administrations persist in believing that draconian measures might teach students “values”? When a punishment is so much greater than a crime, will a student really learn anything more than that bullying is allowed as long as the school administration is the group doing the bullying? And then what? When they grow up and the school years are long behind them do they practice empathy- or operate from a “holier than thou plateau” – the latter message implicit from their observations of their own school years.

Teachers and administrators model behaviour. How a school administration deals with students on a one-one or group basis sends a message loud and clear to the entire population- some student families have more clout than other student families. Unfortunately that is almost the only message that is transmitted. When a teacher continuously picks-on and embarrasses a student in front of the group – this is bullying. When a Vice Principal behaves in one fashion with a parent present only to do an about face when only the child is present – this is bullying. When a child contributes hours of overtime to school groups and causes , when a child actively works for the benefit of the group, that student is modeling positive behaviour. And students can see it. As a private tutor I am one step removed from the formal institutions, and an ear for both parents and students. I have learned to trust the students’ evaluations of what they are hearing and seeing taking place in the space where they spend so many hours- their school.

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2 responses to “Value the Student, not the mistake!

  1. I do not think that schools are too strict, however, I believe that an atmosphere of respect breeds respect and that strict adherence to a school law is less likely to bring about maturity and community than would be a case by case evaluation, the latter offering a student (or students) the opportunity to grow. Surely as educators (and parents) we are custodians of values – preaching concern is far less worthwhile than proving this in practice.

    Gabby please join our linked in discussion at -“Value the student, not the mistake”- under NCTE – also are you the person quoted in this article: on ANGURUGU School- a lovely write up-

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  2. I believe you’re sayng that schools are too strict? Is that correct? The common belief now is quite the contrary. We have instilled in our students the idea that actions do not have consequences, that you can sit an exam as many times as you want, that you cannot fail in school and everyone needs to make you feel good about yourself. And when these students finish their schooling years they try job after job after job as in the real world/workforce you can fail and nobody really cares about how you feel if you don’t get the job done.

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