On this Universal Children’s Day 2014, I told three of my students that they were behaving like realllll jackasses and I put real stress on the ‘jackass’ as much as my Trini tongue could muster so that it sounded as caustic as I felt. I was also very loud, one of the usual tones used when I have to ‘dispense justice’. You know like long time when you used to see the F-word written in public transport but spelt with an ‘O’ instead of the ‘U’? That kinda enraged tone.
I recognise that children have rights. I recognise all 37 of those rights including the right to health, education, a good family and standard of living, play and protection from abuse. I recognise that without these rights children are doomed. What I don’t recognise or rather what I don’t ‘see’ with the human beings under the age of 18 that I encounter on a daily basis, is an acknowledgement and appreciation of these rights.
I don’t normally descend into the quasi-obscene but sometimes the shock value is absolutely necessary. I told them they were behaving like jackasses because a teacher was in class and they decided to pelt each other with paper, one of which struck the teacher on the forehead. What made it worse is that this is my form class, what made it even worse is that I am also the acting Dean, and the icing on this particular dessert is that these children know me and know the kinda shit I don’t stand for so why raise the beast with this horseplay nonsense especially if you don’t do it in when I am teaching?
You know there’s a saying that as a teacher you are in loco parentis which means you take the place of the parents with those under your charge. To be honest it’s not only a saying, it’s also a legal requirement. So sometimes I feel that if I am in loco of your parentis (and as a Spanish teacher this term is especially thrilling), I should act that way. SO! if your parentis feel like it is ok to play de ass in school, me, as your parentis (in loco) will greatly beg to differ and I will open my mouth to indicate such. So if my children whose rights I should respect, coming to school with no pen but combing hair and brushing shoes in class, I feel I should say what I need to say as I am in loco parentis. If my children, whose rights I should respect, are leaving their free textbooks home and writing all subjects in one notebook so their bags will be light, I feel I should say what I need to say to point out the error of their ways. If my children whose rights I should respect, do no homework and submit no assignments, yet somehow end up in bacchanal and fights, I feel I should do what I need to do to steer them in the right direction because clearly school is the wrong direction? Clearly you doh wanna be here? And this does not even begin to touch the surface of gambling, sex acts and narcotics on the school compound in other schools in this country. If I’m lying God strike me down. Thankfully it hasn’t reached there in my neck of the bush.
Now don’t get me wrong eh. Teaching is a vocation i.e. not something to be trifled with. This is why I could allow my emotion to shine forth in the way I feel will be effective. This is why I have to keep impressing upon these human beings under 18 that school is the only way out of the poverty that they are all desperately seeking to escape. But it only works if you put the work in. If I didn’t care, I would simply teach my subject for my particular period and the effort stops there. However, this feeling lasts up to the very point where I realize that my sanity is being endangered, in which case I draw the line and remember it’s only two humans that have passed through my vagina and I need to keep my atoms together for them and that third one that I share a bed with. At this point I stop being the inspirational ‘Lean on Me’ Morgan Freeman and become this guy: