Monday, May 02, 2005

How is this possible?

There was a programme on TV last week about a bunch of English* schoolkids of GCSE age who are being given the opportunity to experience how school was in the 1960's. I nearly fell of the sofa in total disbelief at how these kids of 16 or 17 years old could not spell the words 'remember' or 'tongue', point out where Scotland is on a map (it's a part of Britain for chrissakes, and has been for some time), nor could they - and this left me aghast - point out their own home town, London, the capital city of England, on a map. They could not shut their mouths for ten seconds, or for go for ten minutes without one of them being sent to the principal's office, or being made to face the wall, or write lines. They were cheeky little bastards, whom I wouldn't hesitate to beat the living daylights out of if they had given me the same crap that they gave the teachers. And the sad thing is that in their ordinary, everyday lives, this is what they get away with.
In a similar vein, there was another programme on about a bunch of English kids who have been sent out into the middle of the desert in Utah, America, to a 'Brat Camp'. This is because they are totally out of control, abusing drugs and alcohol, beating up/ threatening/ abusing their parents and siblings, regularly breaking the law and failing in (or in some cases, getting expelled from) school. Their parents had had enough. Again, these kids could not shut up, or follow simple instructions without complaint, constantly trying to dodge the chores they were given. I was gobsmacked. But maybe I shouldn't have been. How did the situation get this bad?
I have a hint of an idea. Interfering social policies set up by soft, apologist, pandering government departments. They have taken the ability to discipline away from parents by passing idiotic laws making it illegal to smack children, and instead advocate negotiation as a means of discipline. Can anyone see what is wrong with this scenario?
"Stop doing that, Timmy, or else I'll... I'll... I'll just have to tell you to stop again!"

Yes, I'm sure that this is effective, and guaranteed to stop poor behaviour. As you can probably guess, my parents were not against smacking me when I needed it, as I often did. The claim made by government to justify this change in law is that too many kids in New Zealand are being after being beaten half to death by their parents. I whole-heartedly agree. But banning smacking is not going to stop this. The violent parents who abuse their kids in this way are still going to do it, and in the same cut, a valuable and effective parenting tool has been taken away from rational, judicious parents. How does this benefit anyone?
Discipline starts at home. I count myself lucky to have been raised by morally strong parents, who taught me right from wrong, and in the process, that if you make dumb choices, you only have yourself to blame when it all turns to custard. You are responsible for yourself and your own behaiviour.
I reckon that in order to succeed in the post-high school battlefield of life, a kid needs the following skills, at a minimum:
  • The ability to reason, and think logically through a problem.
  • The ability to cook a basic meal.
  • The ability to manage a bank account.
  • The ability to read, write and do basic algebra.
  • The ability to empathise with others.
  • A respect for the environment.

These are just a few things off the top of my head, but there are so many kids out there who cannot do these basic things, and who have absolutely no respect for the environment (or anything else, for that matter), and I am disgusted by this.
I don't know what the ultimate solution is, but these things, coupled with a little discipline and perseverance, wouldn't be a bad place to start.

* I'm not trying to single out English kids here, but that was what the programme was about. I am glad to say that Scotland has its own education system which is far better than England's. Scotland has its share of violent, obnoxious punk kids, too, just like any country.


Blogger J.L. said...

I retract the parts about smacking being necessary.

After seeing some other programmes on TV and witnessing that other forms of discipline can be effective, I apologise for condoning the culture of violence that permeates New Zealand.

I thought that I should not remove what I had previously written, as this would be dishonest.

2:47 am  

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