Welcome to my private journal generally on Brunei issues. Any opinions expressed are in my personal capacity. All rights to the articles are reserved.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

School Punishments

I was reading the letters page on BB the other day. In fact I read them everytime the letters are published. Letters about services provided by agencies under my ministry formed quite a large portion of the letters. That's why I take a keen interest.

One letter in particular stood out, not about services, but about a parent writing that a teacher had knocked his or her child's head with a pen arguing that the child did nothing wrong. I am not arguing with that story or the writer's rights but what I would like to bring up is the changing attitude about just how protective are we about our children.

I am a father to a 7 soon to be 8 year old boy. I was also a child once and I am sure we all remember what our childhood was like. I was not exactly an angelic child, I did well at school but it does not stop me from being a naughty child at times. Maybe the years are different compared to most blog readers. I did my primary school in 1969 and early 1970s.

During my time, punishment meted out included being hit by the giant wooden ruler use for the blackboard, being pinched in the stomach (pulas parut) until you literally stand up on your toes, picking up rubbish with your mouth etc. And you know what? I never said a word to my parents. In those days you don't exactly want to tell your parents that you were punished as they will be on the teachers' side. But I grew up fine and so did my classmates. We had a healthy respect for teachers as disciplinarians and we listen to authorities. We may not agree with their method but if you don't do anything wrong, you will not get punished. Most people I talked to, those of my age or older grew up with this system.

When I did my secondary school in Singapore, they even had public canings as the ultimate form of punishment! Imagine doing that here in Brunei.

I am not a teacher, of course you already know that. But teachers I talked to, talked about the lack of discipline among our students. One teacher I talked to was worried about the National Day rehearsals. The teachers have to count the students as there are cases where the students don't turn up and disappeared with their boyfriends or girlfriends. This is crazy. Are we too soft on our children?

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