Monday, April 14, 2008

Sowetan: Violence rules in our schools

On my first day teaching in South Africa, and within 2-3 minutes, a student left his seat at the back of the class, walked right up to me and did a mock-head butt. I came away looking good - brave and sticking to my guns. But the real reason I didn't move away or even budge was because it was the last thing I expected. Had it been for real, I'd have had a face full of blood. And the reason for the physical charade was I was strenuously trying to verbally control the class, and when I called this kid on his behaviour, he was determined to show me (and his mates) who was boss.

Subsequently we got on fairly well, but I have to say, teaching has to rank as the worst job in South Africa...although I have to qualify this by saying at 'certain' schools. A friend of mine is 'happy and fulfilled', but her classes are small and her students are from very very wealthy families (who want results from their children).

Another incident I remember at this school was from a kid who wouldn't behave. The only way we were allowed to discipline the kids was to either write a 'disciplinary report' (which means admin/paperwork and a visit to the principal where the student then tells the principal what a shitty teacher you are, and inverts the whole thing into getting the teacher into trouble), or you can send the student out of the classroom for 5 minutes. This kid wouldn't budge, even though he was making it impossible to teach.

What then happens is you tell the kid to leave the class, he refuses, and you get a huge scene - with the result that even more time is wasted not teaching and with disruptions. The kids also try to incite you, and when you respond, they capture it on cellphone cameras. Cellphones are a whole different story!!!

The worst incident at the school was a dead white cat being given to one of the teacher's (a white teacher just to make clear the metaphor at work), and an attached note: 'You're Next'.

Violence rules in our schools

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