Saturday, October 10, 2009


Kids here are generally well behaved, but they are still kids and kids do stupid things sometimes. Schools seem to be responsible for all sorts of discipline from small stupid things like smoking to criminal acts like assault or robbery. With a fast changing culture and society, what do you do?

A decade ago the western influence was much smaller, the kids had more respect, and a bit of fear of their teachers. It was common for kids to be beaten in school. A few years ago the government changed the corporal punishment policy. The policy has changed, but the students, teachers and schools are in transition. It seems that nobody is sure what comes next.

I have talked to a number of teachers from various schools, so I am basing my comments on general observations. I am not writing about my school or Sandy's school, but what happens in schools in general.

Some of the common punishments include:
  • blind eye: some teachers feel that it is better to ignore the behavior and let the students suffer the consequences
  • standing: kids will have to stand at their desks or special desks at the back of the room
  • scolding: either in the class or in the office where it is closer to yelling than talking
  • knocking: the teacher will use his or her knuckles to lightly rap a student on the head.
  • kneeling: kneel on a concrete floor for an hour and your knees ache
  • disciplinary card: a way to record disciplinary problems which can lead to "volunteer activities" like cleaning the bathrooms or eventually expulsion.
  • beating: small sticks will be used to hit the students on the palms of their hands, back of their legs, or their buttocks.
Some common problems and how they are resolved are:
  • sleeping in class: blind eye treatment, knocking and standing at the back of the room. This is a common issue in every school and some classes will have 1/3 of the students sleeping.
  • Make-up: blind eye or scolding. Girls are not allowed to wear make-up. Most girls wear is kind of a game. The funny thing is the prettiest ones, who need no make-up, wear the most and get into trouble for it. I guess it is a game, but generally the teachers turn a blind eye to it unless it gets excessive and the girls will be scolded for it.
  • Cell phones: blind eye or phone taken. Kids are not allowed to have phones. Nearly every kid has one. It is a game. If they play it properly and turn it off in school, nobody minds. If they try to send messages or play games in school, the phone is taken away.
  • Chatting in class: blind eye or scolding. If it is a momentary chat, usually a blind eye. If it continues, the kids will be scolded in the classroom and possibly the office. This is a common issue in every school.
  • Being disruptive or disrespectful: disciplinary card, scolding, corporal punishment. Disrespect for teachers is not tolerated by most teachers. If a kid speaks inappropriately, he or she will be taken to the office and yelled at. If the kid responds appropriately, it may end there. If he or she does not, beating or kneeling. Apparently this happens a lot less than it did in the past.
  • Criminal acts from robbery to assaults are also frequently dealt with by the school. The response to this varies, but will generally involve parents and be severe...from corporal punishment, to expelling the students. I think it depends on the school, and the actual crime.
I use my progressive disciplinary system, which goes from yellow, to red card, to standing then to one of the schools disciplinary cards, generally works for me. I am told by teachers at other schools that they do not think it would be effective for them and they are unsure what would be good for them.

I think it is an impossible situation. Teachers want to comply with the laws and they want kids to learn. They did not get into teaching because they like to beat kids. Some end up doing things they do not want to because they are at a loss for what else to do. The kids, who have grown up being disciplined with corporal punishment, do not really understand how to behave. Parents often times want the schools to take over complete responsibility for their children.

Now that I think of it, it is amazing that the kids are generally so well behaved.

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