I just want to share my experience with parents all over Barbados, not to shame anyone, but so that can pay closer attention to their daughters. I really don’t believe that a lot of them have a clue how their children behave when they are away from home. Boys also are a problem, but my concern today is the girls.
I teach English and a science subject at one of our more prestigious secondary schools and each day I am still shocked at the behaviour of our girls. They may not be as violent as the boys, but in many ways they are far more aggressive. And don’t think they are stupid either, because they know how to challenge you and they are very aware that as male teachers you have to keep them at arm’s length.
Recently, I have been concerned about a set of girls [and I use set deliberately rather than group] between the ages of 14 and 16 who set out deliberately to challenge male teachers in a sexual way.
They will make sure their shirts are open enough to display cleavage, they will sit with their legs wide open and you can tell from the interaction between them that it is a plan. They will brush against you when they move around and while you deliberately pretend not to notice so it does not escalate you can hear the comments and laughter in the background.
But here’s what prompted me to write you. A few Saturdays ago I was in Bridgetown shopping and this group of girls from my school walked past me and one said aloud: “See wha I tell yuh… He ain’t look bad at all. I would give he piece!” Another said: “I would give he now!”
And they were being deliberately loud because they wanted me to hear, but I pretended I did not.
Then I saw the same group at Reggae on the Beach — and I don’t have to tell you how they were dressed. Would you believe that they came up to me and one said aloud: “Sir, we got something for you!” And I don’t have to tell you where she were pointing.
The thing is, my girlfriend was standing beside me, but that did not stop them. This is what I mean when I saw they are far more aggressive than the boys.
Now tell me, how does a young male teacher survive in that kind of environment, especially when in any matter the student is automatically given the benefit of the doubt and the poor male teacher is guilty until proven innocent? How do you teach these school women who have little interest in the three R’s as we know them?
Strangely enough, when you have to interact with them individually they are nice, regular students; but how can you treat them as such when you have had experiences like mine. And I know from talking to other young male teachers that this is common.
What are we to do? I love teaching, but I prefer to get out before I am ruined by the actions of one of those forced ripe girls, who by the way, know far more about the things of the world that many of us who are much older.
Since Yuh Asked, CT: I suggest you report the off-campus encounters to your principal. This is no small matter and I do agree with you that the male teacher will start with a disadvantage if there is an incident. Luckily, you have your girlfriend as a witness in one case.
I don’t think it is necessary to go back through all you have said, but I would suggest that when you are dealing with misguided students like these you don’t ever want to be alone with them. Also, start discussions with your peers about the situation and start taking notes. And use your cellphone to record some of the classroom behaviour and share it with your principal and colleagues.
But don’t run from the job. Teaching is a noble profession and those who really want to learn should have the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge and techniques of those who enjoy the job. But please, don’t take chances!