Latest update May 28th, 2023 12:59 AM
Mar 25, 2023 Features / Columnists, News, The GHK Lall Column
Kaieteur News – I regret that Ms. Kimone Gentle lost her cool, and lost control. In so doing, she also lost some of the respect that is due to her, lost on the high ground that could have been easily defended. Yes, the odds against her were heavy: male student, female parent, and an explosion of aggression. Still, Ms. Gentle, educator in the Houston Secondary School, knows better; the problem is that she didn’t do so, but even went into the indefensible. Without knowing all the facts and surrounding circumstances, I have considerable sympathy for Teacher Kimone, but I just can’t have her back, as much as I would like. When we (she or any of us) allow ourselves to be dragged into, or willingly descend, into the gutter, then all that is seen and smelled is the gutter. As difficult as it is, there must be that reserve, that inner strength, to rise above the fray.
Yes, it is the heat of the moment, and in a situation of extreme provocation, but to arm herself and go after the parent, leaves her in no man’s land. I am as one with teachers, did seven years in a no-nonsense environment; though there were instances that could have deteriorated, I still did not ever get the impression that things would go off a cliff, to the detriment of all concerned. It would be comforting if the same could be said for our national public school system. Just a quick march through recent ugly and harmful developments involving teachers in our public schools note the vulgarity, disorderliness, and utter contempt for rules, standards, protocols, and the effects on young minds, and older observers, such as colleagues, security personnel, passersby.
There was the East Coast Demerara, then West Coast Berbice, and also Georgetown, with Houston on the East Bank Demerara, the latest casualty of what is a declaration of war against our teachers. I ask myself if the ones targeted, the ones attacked, are that horrible to students, to parents, to the good of this country. Regarding enraged parents, I discern this pent-up frustration, this powerful wrath, directed at those closest to hand -a teacher. I dare to ask the unaskable: are teachers a proxy punching bag for those that can’t be reached? In like fashion, are we cursing, screaming, beating up and putting down one another in wider society, as a mechanism to let off steam that is wished can be directed higher up, but the reach and means are lacking? By higher-up, I do not mean head teachers, but way above that ordinary level. Think politics. Ponder the national, and its unending streams of the abusive, the offensive, and the corrosive.
I think that huge elements of those have seeped into our homes, our attitudes to life (in Guyana), and most indecently and dangerously into our school complexes, and classrooms. Parents turn up the gas into the unthinkable, and now a teacher has crossed the line, and crossed herself up. Though necessary, I really am not keen on knowing what incited the hostile and entangling engagement. What is concerning to me is that a parent reached as far as she did in a school setting, and with one violation leading to the next, and then the other. Finally, there was that instrument of what could have easily led to grievous bodily harm, or worse.
Who else in the worsening teacher-parent divide harbors similar ideas? Because the required protections and impassable spaces are not in place? I say this differently; there will be hell to pay and immediately for any parent (or anybody) to proceed into a classroom, for any reason, including the good. There must be that non-debatable, non-negotiable sense drummed into likely angry parents, and into some others likely to be unconcerned about breaching regulations or laws. Also, there must be the strongest reassurance given to parents, with accompanying confidence felt, that officialdom (ministry) will deal quickly, cleanly, meaningfully with teacher wrongdoing.
Our Ministry of Education should be like our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Meaning, that both are models of decorum in local and foreign forums respectively in the ways that they conduct themselves. Still more specifically, the ministerial and ambassadorial levels must set the tone, manifest the courteous comportment; and all throughout in the managerial and officer and teacher ranks, the same must follow. The police have scorecards about numerical decline in crimes. Has anyone taken the time to consider and count our quality-of-life crimes? From high houses to roadways to school inroads, we have lost significant ground in the struggle for what is respectful, mutually dignified.
Observe the barbed porcupine that one leader changes into when sharply questioned. Study another national leader that is exemplary in fancy footwork first, then when cornered bristles with boorishness. As leaders go, so do some citizens, too. Many come to accept that the law doesn’t apply to them, that rules are there to be trampled upon, and whoever gets in the way can be kicked about at will. Before it was fists, now a cutlass is in hand. National lawless expands, deepens, is out of hand.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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