I always hear this word everytime major exams happen in our school. When a student fails, the teacher gives so much works and too many projects to do as punishment on top of re-tests. Imagine a student has 8 or 9 subjects. If he fails 5, all 5 teachers of each subject require re-tests and projects. Each subject asks 20-30 pages of written reports, all to be submitted in almost the same dates. If a student cannot comply, there’s nothing really the teachers can do because it is school’s policy to not fail any student, therefore he eventually gets a passing score… so what is punishment for when he can pass anyway, with or without any work?

Maybe I am a lazy teacher because I don’t give a lot of projects when one fails. Some of my reasons are simple: that student fails because he’s lazy, maybe he’s a special child or less intelligent than the others, he’s less motivated, uninspired, problematic, needs help etc…

Many of my co-teachers argue. It is the responsibility of a teacher to encourage the student to work hard and learn even in the hardest way. I agree because I never learn in the easiest way. I was never like my students who just come to school empty handed. But I don’t want to argue with my co-teachers. Giving more work and projects as way of punishing them is not my style. Each have their own techniques how to squeeze someone to produce something like the case of students so they deserve the grades they will get at the end of the school year. Personally I want to punish them too but I don’t. I just want to let them know they must have self-respect, self-confidence and sense of responsibility and discipline. I give them one chance at re-tests though. I even told them if they’re involve in any student activities like drama, sports or art, I’d give points.

As to punishment like my co-workers, I would love to do it if I could but I was not allowed or WE were not really allowed to punish them even by giving so much work and pressure because their parents would complain and the school’s name will be in trouble. So instead of standing and screaming my reasons I just share to them the conversation I had with the class where I threaten to give low grades if they slacken and show irresponsibility.

Me: Please be responsible. Always bring your notebooks and books so we can do all our activities and I can help you when you need one.

Students: No book teach… at home.

Me: You MUST bring or you cannot understand what our lesson is all about because you have nothing to refer to, not even book and no notebook for activities that are important as basis of your grades.

Student: “Mai kae” (I don’t care)

Aghast, I said: Don’t tell me that because you are here to learn!

Student: Mommy wants me to be here.

Me: Then you should follow your mom. You are put here for your own future. How will you get a decent job when you don’t know anything.

Student: I want certificate only. I not like school. I am rich.My father have company and factory.

Me: Fine. If you don’t like to learn, do not disturb the class by shouting and talking to your friends who are interested. If you don’t want to learn, you cannot answer major exams and you fail.

Student: I take re-test if I fail.

Me: I don’t give retests anymore.

Student: I study summer, I pass.

Me: I don’t pass student who cares less of his studies.

Student: But last year, I pass in your subject.

Me: You did not pass in my subject. You never passed. You never participated or even tried to show interest in my subject.

Student: The school give me half score. I pass. Same my brother and his friends. They go to university now.

The rest of the class nod their heads to support the boy’s last statement as truth .

That is the reason why I don’t punish the students. It is not their inability that they fail. It is not their fault that they don’t care. Who’s fault is it?

I teach them, I test them, I correct them and everything that my contract tells me to do. Punishment? No, I’ve punished them before but then what or where it got me? To the school director’s office: “Teacher, please do not pressure the students! The parents complain, they are only fifteen. They are young!”

Ok. Fine. Whatever. Sometimes the right thing is not the right thing to do. It hurts. It insults my principle. But I have no choice, the right thing remains a theory. I am just an employee!

If only we were allowed to work for real education… if only we were not so concerned with the face over matter… if only I was putting my effort in the right place… if only…



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