Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Schools Responsibility

(Letter to Jakarta Post 2 November 2004)

In response to the letter “Parents should be responsible” (Jakarta Post, Oct. 25), the policy of the school in question is outdated and inappropriate. Locking students out of schools is a worthless exercise and should be stopped. There are other more positive methods that could be used to “encourage” students to arrive on time. Locking them out is a negative, top-down approach which only teaches students to fear authority and to focus on goals rather than process. Speeding or dangerous driving to arrive on time is preferred? Attending school without breakfast is preferred? I also wonder if the policy applies to the Principal as well.

A student can be delayed for a variety of reasons, many of which are out of their control. A flooded street may cause a detour. So why punish the student?

Ms. Quan’s assertion that parents are responsible and should always know what their children are doing is not realistic. In 10 years of teaching, I have frequently heard secrets from students that they wouldn’t dare tell their parents. I have given advice about very serious issues because the child was afraid to talk to their parents.

Children keep secrets for various reasons. Blaming a parent for the decision of a child is unfair. In my experience only naive parents believe that they know all about their children. It is possible that Ms. Quan has a rare relationship with her child. That would be great if it’s true. Most parents are not that lucky, although many falsely believe that they are.

Rather than blame the parents (that’s easy) it would be better to focus on the responsibility of the school. Schools and teachers are charged with acting as surrogate parents (in loco parentis). They have a duty of care towards a child. That duty is not upheld by denying entry to a school. The school should act responsibly towards the child, the parents and the community.

Gene Netto


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

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