Sunday, July 29, 2007

What is the matter with our educators!?

When I was in Penang, I read this shocking news in the local papers that 200 girl boarders from a secondary school (SMK Bawang Assan) in rural Sarawak were forced to squat neck-deep in a murky fish pond for an hour. They were punished because one of them left a sanitary towel in a toilet bowl. The warden (Discipline Mistress) watched over them with an umbrella as it was raining.

This is the teacher's side of the story.
Minister's visit
Ministry's reaction

I was shocked when I read the article. I know the warden meant well, but is this the way to discipline educate our young? The students are just teenagers. It is wrong to punish all of them for something that one or two students did.

The water is said to be polluted. What if the girls got infected with some kind of virus or a parasite that got into them while being submerged in such water? And what if they got sick being soaked for so long?

Some time ago, in a secondary girls' school in Singapore, its Discipline Mistress made several girls go braless for the day because they were wearing coloured bras instead of white ones! Yes, the girls broke a school rule, but should they be humiliated? It is frustrating for the Discipline Mistress when their students won't listen despite repeated warnings, but do they have to resort to such means?

For 2 years in my son's school, there was no toilet paper provided for all the boys because a few students messed up the toilets with the toilet paper. Many innocent students were punished because of a few mischievous ones. Instead of educating the few, the Principal decided to punish the whole school of boys. She broke a rule too, so I complained to National Environment Agency.

There are many more wrongful disciplinary actions by the school that I want to complain to MOE. The school staff are closely-knitted and would rally around one another. And my son is marked.
Every disciplinary action meted out are actually meant to discipline the students, just make sure that it must not be abusive and students should understand the purpose behind the punishment.

What would you, as a parent, had done if your child is punished to squat in the pond for an hour?

Have you been abused or humiliated by your teachers or heard of any student who was?

Some students I know were made to :

suck pacifiers for the rest of the day when they talk in class;
stand in hot sun for an hour for not wearing their PE T-shirt;
books thrown out of classroom windows for bad handwriting;
carry all the textbooks to school the next day for forgeting one...etc.


  1. whaaaaat?! I would've reported the headmaster and disciplinary teacher to the board! that's just totally the wrong way to teach the girls about hygiene... ishhhh!

  2. May,
    Yes, it is the wrong way to discipline the young ladies too.

  3. as much as i am very intrigued by the punisher's creativity, it is seriously crossing very very far off the line. this is unacceptable!

  4. ehon,
    I can't agree with you more on this!

    If the kids break a rule, by all means discipline them but don't abuse them or think up sadist tortures! The students are still kids for goodness sake!

  5. It is call plain laziness.
    The analogy: because the runny nose is hard to treat, we decided to surgically remove your nose

  6. echuThat's no longer a punishment, but abuse! If I were the parents, I would pursue in whatever ways to the ministry of education. I want that warden to be sacked!

  7. eastcoastlife,
    In my point of view, whoever does anything would have to get punishment. Nowadays children are being spoilt by their parents. A normal case when teacher just cans the student for not doing the homework, the student would complain to his parent and the parent would complain this and that. That's one of the reason crime and disciplinary rates are increasing from year to year.

  8. My angel,
    The case is closed. All forgiven and forgotten. The powerless against the powerful?

  9. yenjai,
    Yes, I agree with you. They thought by doing that, they would eliminate all problems. Gosh. The mentality. tsk tsk tsk....

  10. Doreen,
    That's what I would do too, especially if my daughter is the innocent party.

  11. Kok,
    That I agree. The number of juvenile delinquents are increasing each year.

    Many children are pampered and spoiled by their parents. They are too precious to be disciplined.

    But MOE or the schools should state what type of serious offences would get the students caned, and not leave it to the teachers to do their own punishment.

    Not doing homework doesn't warrant a caning!

  12. That's definitely not the correct way of discipline the students.

    Abuthen, some of the students are just too stubborn. I remember there were several students in my secondary school in the past who left or throw sanitary pads inside the toilet bowls, cloaking the toilet. It was indeed hassle trying to clear the mess, not once but repeatly. How to handle and discipline those ignorant and stubborn students? And the problems continue to occur. Indeed headache.

  13. chen,
    These stubborn students are a minority, but to punish all the girls is not fair to those who have been observing the rules all this time.

    What are they teaching here?

    Would you feel it's ok if you are made to go through this punishment if you are not the culprit?

    The next time, more girls would do it because they would get punish even if they are law-abiding.

  14. during my time (chij town convent), it was very the norm for our books to be thrown out of the window, landing on the balcony or floor. the teacher would screech also whilst doing it. we all accepted it. different generation. no one dare to complain also.
    but no punishment bordering on 'infectious capabilities' like soaking in dirty longkang water, etc. that type we sure complain kaw kaw. first to our prefect, or Noblesse oblige (something like prefect but higher), or head prefect. she will take the matter to a different level. we were such disciplined kids back then.

  15. WAIT... u misunderstood what i said.

    i mentioned in the first sentence already in my previous comment --> "(quote) That's DEFINITELY NOT the correct way of discipline the students."

    I don't agree with what the warden did and I didn't say that is the correct way to discipline them. I was just merely pointing there are some stubborn students out there who are hard to teach. I never say they should be punished this way.

    Furthermore, nowadays the teachers are not allowed to can the students.

    Btw, I too had the share of cleaning up the blocked toilets due to actions of those irresponsible students during the secondary school days. We students have to do those "dirty" jobs..

  16. misti,
    Oh yes. During my time, we students were terrified of our teachers. It was the norm to have our ears pulled, our palms smacked with wooden rulers, pulling our ears while repeatedly standing up and stooping down, and to have our books sent flying through windows! No, we didn't dare complain to our parents.

    Now it's a different game. kekeke....

  17. Oops chen, my bad. :P

    Oh, poor chen! Having to clean up the clogged toilets. It must be disgusting and frustrating!

  18. Humiliation is no way to punish anyone. The educatos are guilty of a very serious crime there.

  19. That's the problem with our educators these days. They think all their "punishment" works like it should, but as a matter of fact, it doesn't.

    Humiliation may work well on some people, but it is plain stereotyping to think that every student can be taught using these ways. Teenagers nowadays have this thing called "face", or 尊严. We certainly don't appreciate such treatments and I don't think we will learn our lessons this way.

  20. Captain Picard,
    Yes, and they are educators. Should call them tormenters!

  21. day-dreamer,
    You're right. Nowadays teenagers want face and pride, some don't take such sh*t and they would retaliate in their own way!

    It's really a tough job for the educators, but they need to have a different approach.

  22. eastcoastlife,
    Yea, nowadays children are just way too precious to be punished. I've been observing my younger cousins who don't really have any disciplines at all. Their parents didn't scold or punish them for doing anything wrong. That's actually not good in teaching a child.

    In my opinion, I don't think there's a need to specify or state what type of serious offences would get the students caned, and not leave it to the teachers to do their own punishment. I think during my days or maybe your days in school, the teachers too don't have any guideline on how to punish us. But they have done a good job in this.

    Probably today's children are a bit tough to teach, you reckon?

  23. Kok,
    Oh yes. The children of today are not tough enough, many have maids or doting grandparents and parents to cater to their every whim and fancy. They are a lucky lot.

    And families having lesser kids, tend to spoil their kids rotten. Things come to them on a platter. Such comfortable lives made them less hungry (competitive), self-centred and more demanding.

    The advanced technology in our lives also added to the laziness of our kids and created new problems.

    In our days, our parents were strict and we were taught to respect our teachers and elders. We have to address each and every one of our elders when we see them or before we eat. Our upbringing began at home and shaped our whole live.

    Now the young people see their elders as transparent. And they are defiant too when reprimanded. This is very sad. Many of our young are ill-bred and ill-disciplined.

    Sometimes when they get into trouble due to their brashness and recklessness, I can't help but think they truly deserve it.

  24. I remember carrying a desk on my head for a full period on an open field as punishment back in those days.
    That explains my nicely developed biceps and my short neck! LOL

    Oh, the latest news is that teacher in Sarawak got away scotfree! The school or MOE should have at least suspend her.

  25. A effective disciplinary method guides a person to learn from his/ her mistakes and not to do the mistake again.

    However, an ineffective disciplinary method may affect a person's emotionally....and may not appropriately correct the misbehaviour.

    Maybe our society needs more love and patience?

  26. eastcoastlife,
    I agree with everything that you've mentioned. My grandpa last time hit us when we're not well behaved but now, it's the other way round. My cousin even hit him and scolded him back when he offered my cousin food and my cousin didn't want. What a world.

    True enough. When the children don't have enough pocket money, they'll just ask from their parents. And being the one or two children in the house, of course the parents tend to spoil them and give whatever they want to them. I remember I only had RM2 for my pocket money in Form 5. I only had enough to buy my breakfast during recess (I normally didn't have my breakfast early in the morning).

    Nowadays, you won't even see the youngsters greet the elders, not to say before eat. Like you said, they just treat their elders as transparent. No respect at all. I had few little cousins who never greeted my parents before. Sad...

    That's why, I would truly support teacher to punish the students who break the rules. If not, I don't know what will happen to our next generation.

  27. I think disciplining in Malaysian and Singapore schools are still in the 50's era.

    Over here, no teachers are allowed to touch the kids or they can be charged and may lose their job and end up with a criminal record.

    If toilet papers have been misused by kids (happens all the time in our school), the suspected children are interrogated, secluded and witnesses (other pupils) are being questioned discreetly so as to protect the witnesses. I know it can be very time consuming but then as you said, other innocent children should not have to pay for a few kids' bad behaviour.

    When kids do something very wrong twice or three times, then they will be on the list for exclusion.

    In this case, I think the disciplinary teacher cannot be bothered or the girls did not want to snitch on their friends thus frustrating the disciplinary teacher. Nevertheless, such punishment should not have occured.

    I think the teacher was so angry that she lost her 'otak' lah! :)

  28. i heard many teachers AND students need psychiatric help.
    teachers cannot do this and that. students and parents complain kaw kaw.
    students get 98/100 will still get scoldings from parents.
    how not to become siao?

  29. I guess if anyone manage to come out with a solution to the need of disciplining stubborn kids who are very hard to teach, educators who live in their world and may have taken the word "discipline" a bit too far, parents who are not doing their parts in inculcating values, and society that may have a declining moral stand - that person deserves a Nobel Price.

    In view of the content of this blog, I think educators should go through some sort of profiling test to see if they can still love the students when day in day out, they keep fixing the same problem. Some just can't do it (myself included - see below).

    On a separate note, one evening when I returned from work, outside my condo was this young boy with a maid. And the young boy kept saying these to the maid:

    "I want that cat to be dead. I want that cat to be run over by a car. Now. (and then repeat)"

    I turned around, looked at the harmless little cat just resting by the roadside. I know for sure ...

    ... I can't be an educator myself.

    What's wrong with this kid?!

    Imagine, if I am to discipline him, what would I have done?

    Now imagine, months after months, years after years, I keep on meeting students just like him, what then would I have done?

    Punish the entire school to send a strong signal that ... the desire of killing a life is wrong?

    If I was driven mad enough, I may. That's why I can't be an educator in that sort of environment :)

  30. cocka,
    I'm not surprised you get such punishment, after you show us your pai kia photo. You have a face that teachers would love to re-arrange. hahaha....

    I couldn't believe it when I read that the warden was forgiven.

  31. oceanskies,
    Yes, I agree with you that those who went through an ineffective disciplinary method may affect him or her emotionally.

    Love and patience might not work on recalcitrant teenagers.

  32. Kok,
    Oh no. How could your cousin be so rude to his grandpa!?

    I agree that teachers should punish the students who break rules, but don't abuse or humiliate the students in the name of punishment!

  33. Judy,
    It's the mentality of those educators who are still in the 50s' era!

    We have guidelines not to abuse or humiliate the students. And teachers in Singapore are not allowed to hit the students.

    Losing one's head in such cases is not cool. The warden was supposed to maintain law and order in the school, but she turned out abusing her authority. She should have more sense to know what she was doing. What happened is not acceptable.

  34. hehehe... misti,
    Yes, over here - students, teachers and parents - everybody can go siao (crazy)!

    It's results! results! results! The school is like a factory with a production line. And what are the schools churning out? Monsters.

  35. Wilfrid,
    I agree that the person who comes out with a solution to discipline recalcitrant kids should get a Nobel Prize!!!

    I'm very tickled by MOE's statement that they are strict and cautious with their selection of teachers. I should blog about some teachers I have come across in our schools, complete with their photos! This would make MOE look silly. ^-^

  36. I'm very tickled by MOE's statement that they are strict and cautious with their selection of teachers. I should blog about some teachers I have come across in our schools, complete with their photos! This would make MOE look silly. ^-^

    Please do it! It sounds like a very hard task though but I believe in you!

    Meanwhile, let me start drafting a proposal to MOE in the anticipation of ...

    "Seeking external consulting agency to enhance the competency model of our school teachers and a feasibility study on the process re-engineering of the teacher selection, retention, and counseling out process" ...

    I may win a project after MOE got panic due to bad publicity caused by ECL! Time to get back to my old trade ...

    *** Wicked Smiles ***

  37. ah hahahahaha.... wilfrid,
    It's not really a hard task. An example is the most infamous "I have diamonds!" teacher. :)

    An the rest, photos and videos taken by students of their teachers during lessons. :)

  38. When I was in primary school , my class teacher will pinch my tummy until blue black if I forgot to bring my book or homework to school..It got so bad that I was terrified of going to school..but of course those days , where got repot this repot that one..I just kept quiet nia..din even tell my parents..

  39. Yea I read about this online and sparked outrage among many countries. The way the students were punished were as though they were prisoners of war.

  40. eve,
    Oh gosh! It sometimes freaks me out to discover what teachers have been doing to our children in schools. The kids were probably either confused or too terrified to report such incidents.

    And we parents thought school is a safe place for our kids. Geez....

  41. Ed,
    Oh yes! My initial reaction was one of shock! I couldn't belive that such a thing could happen in a civilised society. That a highly educated individual could do this! That this act of school rage is perpetrated by an educator, who shouldn't even THINK of doing it.

    It is dangerous to leave such people in charge of education. It's like putting me in charge of a brain surgery! ^-^

  42. that's too much of the disciple master requested and punishing methods.

    during my time, i only get caught for long hair and center parting of my hair, being forced to use a cheapo gel to gel my hair side parting. the gel is so sticky and smelly! also always being asked to cut my hair!

  43. Leonard,
    You liked to keep long hair when you were schooling. Now that you have the freedom to leave it long, you choose to keep it short.

    So the smelly gel did teach you a lesson. :)

  44. I can understand if nobody admits the 'crime' and therefore everybody has to be punished. If someone admits it, then that person should be punished. Anyway, to ask them to squat in a murky, infected fish pond for an hour on the rainy day, that's wrong! Also, I don't think it's good for the teachers to stand in the rain either.

  45. hi ECL! Sometimes, I think it is ok to punish the whole lot because 1 or 2 broke the rules etc. e.g. in the army, if 1 did wrong, the whole platoon or even company gonna punish - drilling into the people that whatever they do influences others as well since we live in a community. There's also this peer pressure from those innocent victims to keep check on the troublemakers as well (probably more effective since students are with their peers most of the time).

    well, all in all, it's 'All for 1, and 1 for all'.

    But seriously, how do u teach someone who just refuse to listen??

  46. Of cos, the type of punishment given is wrong i think... but then again... spare the rod and spoilt the child.

    And I always believe in not sparing the rod, esp with children nowadays. I rather they hate me and grow up to be a useful chap, then to love me and be a useless burger!

  47. I agree that humiliation is often unnecessary. However, the threat of humiliation is often used especially when dealing with "indian chiefs" in class who try to be the "heroes".

    If only discipline were such an easy matter. However, different people have different standards as well as different methods of discipline. What is acceptable to you may not be acceptable to others and vice versa.

    In the end, unless you're doing the job, there is no way you can know how tough that job is, whether it is a janitor or a president. It's easy to point fingers and say "how can!", but can any of us come up with something better? Constructive criticism accompanied with an alternative solution - that's the ideal.

    As long as the punishment suits the crime and the decision is a fair one, i would see no reason to complain about the "inhumanity" of it all.

  48. windy,
    Nobody in her right mind would admit to the 'crime' at that moment when faced with a furious warden.

    Here, 199 innocent victims were punished in a most inhumane way1! What lesson was the warden trying to give? That those who didn't commit any wrong may be punished? That a person in authority may use force at her whim and fancy?

  49. Kev,
    Yup, I agree with you that 'to spare the rod would spoil the child.' Many children our time were brought up that way.

    Having looked after so many students, if there are some who refuse to listen no matter what I did, I'll just leave them alone. Too bad, they have to learn it the hard way. And I believe they would remember the lesson forever.

    In the army, although I sympathise with the soldiers, but I understand that it is crucial that they look out for each other.

    You are gonna be a responsible parent! Kudos to you!

  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

  51. Hi sauerkraut!

    Right, I agree that the warden's job is tough. And I should have 'constructive criticism accompanied with an alternative solution'. This sounds familiar. Ahhh... The PR woman in our gahmen service who said that to Mr Brown! And you are in civil service too? ^-^

    But had I been in the warden's shoes, I wouldn't have thought of that punishment, it's just unthinkable!

    I'm a guardian of teenagers for 18 years! I don't just see them a few hours a day, I live with them. I have seen all their tricks. I know how tough it is to discipline them. But such a punishment have never crossed my mind although I lived near a dirty canal.

    sigh.... discipline is really not easy.

  52. What these childern are learning is not how to life a of peace and love they are being treated as something that is not human. There are more gentler ways to get a point accross then to humilate and possible make people sick. The teacher who has done this grave injustice is not a teacher she is a person that this girls can learn to be not like. If this is the message that these girls have learned then they have learned that people like this teacher must never be honored or emulated. A very nasty lesson indeed.

  53. Hi Teacher Dave,
    This is definitely not done out of love but an act of rage.

    We really do need more love and patience when teaching the young. Parents have to do their part too, they cannot leave it to the school.

  54. eastcoastlife,
    I've no idea why my cousin could do such a thing to my grandpa. Totally rude!

    This, I have to agree with you. Wrong, you have to punish, but not abuse or humiliate.

  55. Kok,
    Oh, your poor grandpa. He must be hurt. :(

  56. I totally agreed with you on this
    I mean public caning I agree but then soak in a pool, unless the fella has an axe in hand if not I think a riot is in place
    But then again, are parents overly protective nowadays that even caning is too much?
    May be I am old fashioned la

  57. Hi zeroimpact!
    I agree that parents are overly protective of their kids. If they can't take their children in hand, the state would do it eventually.

    I'm old-fashioned too! I prefer a good caning than counselling!

  58. The girls should not be punished like that. It's not like they found it on the ceiling or the sink. Even in those two cases it does not warrant what occurred. What if any girls get ill? Unconscionable!!! Fire her and never let her come near children again.

  59. simple american,
    My sentiments exactly! Such actions should not be condone.

  60. To humiliate people because of a mistake or misbehavior done, IMO, is in very bad light. There are different ways to right a wrong, depending upon the severity but to trample on people's basic human rights for such a minor misbehavior is totally unfair. These are young ladies and they should be handled with care because this stage is their life is sensitive.

    My 2cents.

  61. I guess that that phrase shouldn't be limited only to the civil service?

    It's easy to tell people how to do their jobs because you're not the one doing it. For example, i can tell my maid to sweep the floor ten times. However, when you're the one doing the job, carrying out the action, taking on the task, then you can see more clearly what the limitations are. I'll reiterate, this does not only apply to the public sector, it applies everywhere.

    Discipline is never easy. Especially for teachers these days. For example, a teacher friend of mine penalised a child for poor writing by marking his answer incorrect. The parent threw a fit. My friend just said, 'If you want your child to grow up thinking that illegible handwriting is ok, i'll change the grade now.' The parent shut up.

    My point is, there are too many people to please. I believe that as long as you stick to your principles of educating a child, both academically as well as in character development (as well as all that holistic development stuff that MOE is spouting...), then your conscience is clear.

    The bottom line is that the child must benefit from it.Benefit whether in learning or via experience, it doesn't matter. The interests of the child come first.

    Lastly, keep in mind the age old adage. "You can't please everybody." So let's just do the best we can. Let's do what's right and let's hope that the decisions we make are the right ones.


  62. Teacher Julie,
    As a teacher, you might have your own guidelines on how to discipline a student. I'm glad that abusing and humiliating them is never in it.

    The emotional as well as the physical well-being of a child has to be taken into consideration.

  63. sauerkraut,
    Sorry if I sound sarcastic. :P

    You're right we can't please everyone. I realise teachers' hands are tied and that there are limitations in what they can do.

    I pray that educators would make good decisions. Many young, innocent kids are in their hands.

  64. chen,
    Oh gosh. This is real bad. It happened in Singapore too. More students these days are getting violent and cruel. This is not playful behaviour.

  65. The teachers are getting blur in their limitations of power.

    What is disciplinary action? How do you define a corporal punishment apart from physical abused.

    In america, you can't hit kids, if you do, you will go to jail.

    And I think it's very hypocritical that some females kept on yelling gender equality and yelped on female students getting punished, but pretended to see nothing when a male student got caned nearly to death.

    As for the hostel warden case.... I totally disagree with the way the girls get punished, there could be other ways like fine, or placement of waste baskets for sanitary napkins, or a little bit extreme..... CCTV.

  66. Hi Angel_X,
    Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for sharing.

    Many women want equality of sex but yet they have double standards whenit come to their hubbys or bfs. They just want to have control.

    Yeah, i agree with you. If the warden can be so extreme, she could have set up CCTV.