Why school discipline is ineffective.

Sometimes when I ponder over the issue of school discipline and the best way the teachers and school administrators should handle it in today’s modern society, I often think of the murky waters of severe administrative and legal limitations through which they have to waddle. A lot of indiscipline on the part of students is going on in schools and teachers are helpless because they dare not ‘touch’ the unruly students for fear of losing their jobs.

There is a limit to which the school principal or school administrators can implement disciplinary measures. Even the school district officials sometimes do not want to stick their heads above the parapet and assert full authority because they do not want to face unnecessary lawsuits. Any attempt by teachers and administrators to mete out discipline to badly behaved students is viewed by some parents as a ‘trespass’ by those teachers.

The unfortunate aspect of this is that most of these children are aware of this ‘awesome power’ possessed by their parents in effecting some of the decision-making process in the school. They also know that teachers only have limited powers over them in terms of the types of punishment that can be awarded any student for an infraction of the school rules. I know of a school principal who lost her job to the ‘awesome power’ of her school parents because she refused to take dictates from them over a purely administrative matter.

I am a parent myself but I don’t want my children to bask under the protective cover of a law that insulates them from appropriate disciplinary measures anytime they go wrong. Parents should realize that when they play a role in the removal of an educator or a school principal because of administrative issues, they are doing the school system a great disservice.

Under the atmosphere described above, it becomes impracticable for the school to transmit to the children the right social skills and values such as obeying instructions, being orderly, learning to avoid cheating especially during exams, telling the truth, patience, humility, and not engaging in fights among others.

A breakdown of law and order often results when children  lack these basic social skills and do not follow school rules. Some parents never show up for parent-teacher conferences and they never respond to communications from teachers and school administrators regarding some unacceptable behaviors of their children in school generally and in the classroom in particular.

I witnessed an ugly spectacle in my daughter’s school one day before the end of school, a couple of years ago.  I was passing through a hallway when I ran into a huge crowd of students and some school officials. Out of curiosity, I moved closer to see what was happening. Alas! It was a big brawl involving two female students. From the narration given by one of the students, a big argument broke out between the two girls and all of a sudden, one of them went ballistic and landed a huge blow on the other’s face. So “fast and furious” were the fisticuffs flying that even Mohammed Ali and Mike Tyson in their glorious pugilistic days would be “shocked and awed” to find out that their cherished art has been ‘disrespected’ by the two school girls.

In a flash, they were both on the ground with the one sitting and bouncing on the belly of the other. The one atop kept pummeling away the one beneath with ruthless gusto and a relentless pounding with reckless abandon. Not even the presence of some teachers at the scene was enough to deter them. Their clothes were in tatters. At this point, blood was oozing out of their necks and faces. Yet most of the stand-by students were cheering them loudly without making any attempt to separate them.

It took the bold effort of one of the school staff who rammed himself in-between them before the girls eventually dismantled. It goes without saying that this bold school official was greeted with a ferocious display of fisticuffs with a few punches landing on his head.

The point I am trying to make in this analysis is that this ugly spectacle is a reflection of gross dereliction of duty by the home as an agent of socialization in terms of failure to inculcate the right social values into the children. Since the girls lacked the social skills of patience and ability to avoid fight from home, the school could not build on those skills. The two girls obviously showed total disrespect for the school authority by engaging in physical fight right in the full glare of their teachers. Although I heard the two girls were suspended from school for maybe some days or weeks, the incident was a flagrant display of gross indiscipline rooted in a lack of parental oversight.

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