중앙데일리

Chaos in the classroom

Dec 22,2010
Bad behavior in our nation’s classrooms has gotten way out of hand.

Teachers are being beaten up by students and even sexually harassed. Last week at a high school in Suwon, a freshman hit a female teacher in the chin and kicked her thigh in response to the instructor’s attempt to discipline the student.

Earlier this month, a fifth-grader at an elementary school in Seongnam pulled the hair of a female teacher trying to stop a fight. A teenager at a middle school even choked a female teacher and spit on her face for getting upset at his tardiness.

And then there’s the video clip making the rounds on the Internet of students at a middle school probing their young female teacher about whether she lost her virginity in high school.

We are dumbfounded as we watch our sacred places of learning deteriorate.

The authority of teachers has been on shaky ground for a long time. But the death knell came when education authorities in Seoul and Gyeonggi recently banned all forms of corporal punishment at schools.

With the decrease in disciplinary options, students are frequently talking back to or even ridiculing teachers. In fact, six out of 10 teachers say it has become quite hard to control students.

This type of crisis in the classroom can lead to a collapse of the educational system.

Corporal punishment should be scrapped, but we cannot let chaos dominate the learning environment. Instead of physical punishment, indirect punishment should be allowed at the very least. Banning disciplinary practices such as keeping students after class or sending them to a time-out for bad behavior is too extreme.

It might be necessary to examine the possibility of allowing schools to suspend students for violence or other inappropriate behaviors.

The rights of teachers should be as important as those of students. If teachers cannot do their jobs because they fear retaliation from students, our educational system has no future.

Teachers should be legally protected so that they can fully commit themselves to their profession without concern for their safety.

Education does not just concern schools, teachers and students. Parents and society must also work together to restore decency to classrooms. Students should be taught what is right and wrong. If teachers, parents and society cannot do that, we may be risking the future of the next generation and the country.



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