What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails.
That’s what [tough] little boys are made of!
Just this week, Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) president Mary Redman related the chilling tale of a student of “a country school” November last exercising “assault and battery” on a temporary teacher there –– of all times, during class. We weren’t told what possibly provoked the lad –– not that it mattered –– but in the normal and civilized scheme of things, what on earth could empower a sapling to repeatedly threaten his teacher’s life as he beat upon her before his shocked and bemused peers?
That the lad, Barbadian though he be, grew up in the United States –– probably New York –– may offer some explanation of his mien and public behaviour, but such suggestion might manifest an accusation of profiling by the ultra-liberals among us –– as if our young are not socialized by the environment in which they are nurtured. And, America is not unknown for unexemplary, belligerent and violent conduct among its adults –– on the side of the law, and outside of it.
Truth be told, if a student would batter his teacher with seemingly impunity, and callously before witnesses, what could he not expect to do towards his own fellow students among whom he has freer range and much easier contact?
The sadder revelation is that it is not the first time this youngster has exhibited a passion for violence. In the last term of the 2013-2014 school year, according to Ms Redman, the lad had been involved in another “serious incident” in which “a large chef knife was found in the child’s possession”. Saddest yet, was that this offender had been recommended then to the Juvenile Liaison Scheme, presumably for rehabilitation, but, as the BSTU was made to understand, the student never attended the programme.
How is such flagrant disregard possible, and tolerated by the related school’s powers that be and the officers of the Ministry of Education?
Ms Redman is dead on when she argues that the ministry –– and we add the school board and principal –– has a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for teachers and students, which could hardly be secured in the company of our young aggressive and bellicose friend from New York (?). The BSTU was then hardly harsh in flexing some muscle in having the student removed from the school. We trust the Ministry of Education has taken the appropriate steps to see to the young one’s awakening, counselling and comeback.
And what of his parents or guardians? Where are they in all of this?
Such school disorder and the casual reaction to it is often underpinned by the well touted myth that violence in schools today is no more vicious and prevalent than it was 40 or more years ago. Of course, naked evidence challenges such a nonsensical notion.
We do not deny that the school may be “a microcosm” of the greater community with its aberrant behaviours; but that is no excuse for not bending the twig into proper shape early, thwarting its growth into any hardened and inflexible branch.
Regrettably, many a parent in current times has had understandable cause to be no part of the virtues of good upbringing –– because they simply were inculcated with none. There is no exemplary practice to pass on. This is where
the professionals in our educational system must step up to the plate, including our seasoned teachers.
Our educational system could help in resolving much of this problem, if as part of the school curriculum students could graduate with a wider knowledge and greater sense of responsibility and civic duty –– with which they might influence their devil-may-care parents or guardians, and the other feckless senior adults around them.
We need too to kill this sentiment that society is not allowing boys to be boys; that inculcation of civility and considerateness is making our lads “too soft”. Disorder and assault cannot be the stepping stones to manliness.
If those among us who ought to know better continue to cling to such implausible premisses, burying their heads in the sand –– brains and all –– we are going to be in for generations of combativeness, contentiousness and truculence at school, leading ultimately and grievously to teacher and student bloodshed.
That hectoring, intimidation and murderousness obtain in the workplace and in the community at large (and in some political entities) cannot be a comforter for the acceptance of these barbarities in the classroom or playground –– as any moulding of a young man.
That’s not what our little boys should be made of!