This essay was submitted to one of my subjects in grad school. This essay talks about the morals of education.
How can the philosophies of education address the behavioral problems of students in the private school? From the presumption of private school teachers, it is believed that the governance in private school may affect the authority of the teacher in administering discipline in the class. It is deemed by some college instructors that the students of the said institution, in some way, have that feeling of superiority because they have the so-called control in terms of financial matters in the school.
As we all know, the private schools are very much dependent with the number of students per school year. Maintaining a good number of enrollees each school year gives financial security of the school. Thus, the administration tends to pacify the demands of the students in return including some extreme conditions.
Having said those assumptions, this essay will discuss the following: (a.) the probable reason of the limitation of the teachers in implementing discipline, (b) the possible factors that affect the behavior and character of the students, and (c.) the actual disciplines that are imposed in the classroom by the author.
The Teacher’s Limitation in Imposing Classroom Discipline
You can hear teachers say that classroom discipline in the private school is breaking down. This is because students in the said school have assumed superiority for some reasons as mentioned earlier. Teachers are apprehensive in enforcing discipline and dealing with the violations done by the students because the students may get back at them. One way of getting back at the teacher is through evaluation. Students will vent out their sentiments towards their teacher. This is one means of getting their message across to the Vice President of Academic Affairs or even to the President of the university. The worst thing that the students could do is to file a position against the teacher. The abovementioned scenario inside the class is distressing in the part of the teacher especially if there is power play in the part of the students.
Despite the issues of classroom management due to the clash of authority in the class, the answer still lays with the teacher. What instructional philosophies will a college instructor incorporate in his or her classroom environment so that behavioral problems are eliminated and learning is reinforced? With the varying needs and untoward behavior of the students, teachers are greatly challenged. Furthermore, private school teachers’ implementation of discipline particularly imposing consequence is limited only to what the school permits him or her to do. The classroom management, teaching styles and strategies are bounded by the school’s code of ethics and conduct for teachers not to mention the unwritten law.
I personally believe that no specific approach is an absolute or ultimate cure to these classroom issues. Teachers have to understand that instructional and classroom management style are personal. It is tailored or modified to the nature of the learner. When the learner’s needs are being addressed, then the classroom, which is the miniature form of society, also improves. This is somehow relative to the aims of education. Fromm (1990, p.78) states that “Education has two goals which are mutually dependent: cultivation and development of the individual and the improvement of the society.”
In relation to the aforementioned statement, teachers have to bear in mind that in as much as the ideals concerning the principles of education are true but they also need to be adaptable to the needs and nature of the students in the classroom. In fact, you cannot use one approach to all the classes. To cite an example, I am teaching Literature 1 to two different classes. One class is a block section of BS Accountancy students (let’s call it section A), while the other one is a free section (the section B), which means that students are from different courses with different cognitive levels. Both sections have behavioral problems not to mention the disparity of their creative intelligence, which somehow is a concern too. However, how I deal with section A is not the same with section B. This is because their natures are very different considering their intellectual capacity, preferences, family background, course background, and even their environment.
The Superiority Complex of the Students
The next concern that is being dealt in this essay is the superiority complex of the students. Using the same examples, section A’s behavioral concern is coated with superiority because aside from the fact that they know that their existence is important so that the school will survive and thrive, they are also intellectually superior compared to the other class. Thus, they behave with overbearingness. Section B on the other hand behaves superiorly because they feel that they have immunity from failing grades. They, like section A, believe that the school needs them. As per school policy, when they have more than the allowable number of failing marks, these students will be dismissed from the school. Of course, there is this unwritten law that the school cannot afford to dismiss students due to failing grades. Thus, the teachers are being propelled by the school to help the students pass their subjects. To be able to do that, the school imposed a counseling program for the faculty to reach out to students for tutoring and other supplemental activities. I believe there is nothing wrong with that. It is one way of meeting the need of troubled students, whether for humanitarian reason or other good reasons. (Philips, 2008)
However, I see one problem with that program. It, in a way, makes some students become lenient in their class. That behavior is observed when they do not pay attention to lectures. The students rather talk with their seatmates or do other things because they know they can make up with their failings. Having pointed these things, this somehow reminds me of the philosophies of the Greek moralist like Plato concerning moral character. But then again, teachers are still tied with the school policies and programs. We teachers whether they like it or not have to extend to students beyond classroom activities.
The superiority complex of the students may not be completely eradicated because of the kind of governance in the school however it can be controlled if not downplayed. In the later part of this essay, I will be discussing the discipline that I have been imposing in the class.
The Factors Affecting Moral Character
Behaviors of the learners are somehow an issue of moral character, or to better put it, an issue of the heart. Learners of today have misaligned virtues. There are maybe varying factors that contribute to that. One factor that is considered to affect the learners’ behavior in the class is the existence of technology. Education has been greatly challenged today due to the proliferation of technology. The rapid growth of technology has touched every aspect of our lives including morality. Thus, technology has a certain effects in the behavior of the students in the classroom particularly their study habits and their desire to learn.
In addition, technology does not only affect the affective development of the learners today but also the cognitive development. These effects are being observed generally among the students in the campus where I am currently teaching. For instance, whenever you pass the student center and the A-walk, you will see students opening their laptops, and coming from afar you will see that they seem to be very busy, but looks can be very deceiving. Why? When you peek in their laptops, you will find out that they are not busy doing their assignments but they are busy updating their social network sites like facebook, twitter, tumbler, and etc. Aside from social networking sites, most men are hooked in playing online video games. Engaging in these activities can be very addicting. Thus, it affects the study habits of the students. You can see that students have short-term memory and lack of zeal to study.
Technology is part of the social change and is inevitable. Modernity has brought a lot of change and progress in our society. In fact, technology changes at a lightning speed. However, Education may view technology as both a blessing and a curse. For Progressive educators, they welcome change and make use of it to progress learning because these educators believe that students learn in real life activities, and that nothing is fixed and final concerning educational aims. Jet Bustamante, in her handout, mentioned that “the school functions as vehicle of new ideas [including new methods of teaching] and instrument of success”. (Anonymous)
Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that technology can also be a curse because it also has a negative effect in the lives of the learners. Social networking and video games disturb the pattern of studying. As seen in the lifestyle of the students in the school, they prefer to update social network statuses or play games online rather than working on their assignments, research papers, and studying their lessons.
On the other hand, there are many solutions that will address the downside of technology. To counterbalance its negative effect, there must be a reform in the curriculum to maximize the use of technology and employ it for the good of the learner including the policy of the school concerning the access to online gaming and social networking. The school must preserve the advantage of technology by putting it to good use. The Department of the Information Technology System of the school should ban the open access to the following sites. It will not hurt the school and the learner to practice a little of authoritarianism wherein the school takes control in this specific area alone. This is with the aim to foster meaningful learning anyway. If the school will fully embrace the Laissez-Faire system, which is “non-interference in the affairs of the students” (Eiseman, p. 153); and let the students do what they want in the school premises and make use of the internet with gusto and no limitation, then students will be lured in video games and social networks. Eventually, they will totally neglect their studies. And as a result, the school will produce mediocre graduates.
Another factor that is considered to have an effect in the attitude of the students is the environment at home. Our school’s Guidance Office has presented a statistics of our students’ family background. As seen from the data, there are a large number of students coming from a family where parents are both working abroad, or one parent is working abroad. This scenario has behavioral and psychological effects in the students. Behaviors at home are somehow extended in school and other social groups. With this information, the teachers in our school have an additional burden aside from teaching the students to learn and become well-rounded professionals. Teachers are at the same time challenged to process the multilayered angst that students carried from their individual homes. I have seen students in my Literature 1 class broke down after sharing their insights from a literary piece. I have read reaction papers containing their sentiments towards their parents and other family members.
As a result to that environment at home, you cannot expect your students to have solid moral concepts because they lack parental guidance. Anyone can obviously expect a misguided individual with perhaps a twisted idea of morality. Wilson et al (1967, p.129) has a similar concept when he explains: “A child needs to accept … a certain code of behavior, parental commands, traditional rules etc.” When parents are absentees, children know no authorities in their lives. Hence, you cannot expect them to behave according to the standards of the society. You can conclude that there is a moral crisis that is going on among these students.
The Imposed Discipline
Dealing with learners with the age 18 and above, there is less that a teacher can do when it comes to changing their nature. According to Dr. Elbanbuena, “the nature of a child has fully developed at the age of 18.” This means that there is nothing that you can do with the individual’s character and personality. Ms. Visaya has presented in her report about “Aims and Human Nature” that Human nature is only modifiable because it has the capacity to learn… but it cannot increase its inherent modifiability. This may prove that education can not alter personality. Change only dwells in the learner who has the freedom to choose, which also lies between duty and fault.
Having those realities in mind, the teacher then can only do so much and it is up for the students to respond. However, this should not compromise the curriculum, teaching strategies and classroom management styles of the teacher. If discipline is not imposed, the negative behavior of one student will infect the whole class. Brubacher (Modern Philosophies of Education, 3rd Ed) resonates that Punishment [Discipline for that matter] is administered to protect the class by making an example of the offender. It may sound like a sacrificial lamb to others but somehow as a teacher, you need to set an example. But this authority concerning administering consequence must not go beyond what the school (or the law) permits. The saying that goes “It was better for a child to go right in chains than wrong in freedom” (Brubacher, 1939); is not true always considering that society evolves through time. Students nowadays repel dictatorship and they explicitly show rebellion to the teacher by passing position paper to the school administration.
In order to enforce discipline and maintain law and order in the classroom, rules have to be set during the first day of school. My students and I have a mutual agreement of these rules. Take note that the rules set in my class is in accordance to the policy of the school. The reason for this is that the students have to own these rules as well. They need to understand the purpose of these rules aside from the fact that they also consent and take part of creating these rules. This idea is somehow relative to the philosophy of education on Moral Education ascertained by Wilson and Durkheim (1961): “The child must come to feel himself what there is in a rule which determines that he should abide by it willingly. In other words he must sense the moral authority in the rule, which renders it worthy of respect (p154).”
Also, these rules created in the class by my students do not only implement the policy of the school concerning classroom attendance, class participation, grading system, and the likes but it also fosters moral values like respect, integrity, honesty, love for the country and environment, and other Filipino virtues.
So, what are the corresponding consequences when students break these rules? The students agree on specific consequences based also in their student handbook. For example, the students are only allowed to miss class for ten absences for MWF classes or 7 absences for TTh classes, beyond that, they know that they will be dropped from their subject due to absences. They also agree to be sent out from the class when they do not pay attention after 3 warnings. When it comes to using cellphones and other gadgets while inside the class, they consent that their phones or mp3 or other gadgets will be confiscated from them. When the consequence is being implemented, the students will no longer retaliate because they are fully aware of the end result of their mischief.
To wrap up this essay, here are the final analyses of the following points. First, on the position of limited implementation of Discipline and Punishment as a classroom management, the teacher whether s/he has a complete authority in exercising his/ her role as the educator, still s/he has the liberty or sovereignty to innovate his/ her teaching strategies that will suit the need and nature of the learner. We teachers have to bear in mind that we have a paramount role in achieving the goals of education in the lives of the learners. Classroom discipline is just a part and parcel of the total learning process. It is not the end of learning and not even the entire means to an end. The philosophies of education will guide us through in fulfilling this noble task. Every teacher has a guiding (a personal one) philosophy so that s/he will be able to obtain his/ her goal in imparting knowledge as well as influencing the character or virtues of the learners. Let us not forget that “Intelligence is a quality of learned behavior” (Brubacher, 1939).
Second, concerning the superiority of the students including the issues on moral character is reduced to the nature of the learner. Regardless of grounds or what causes the students to be superior or to be morally and ethically challenged, it still boils down to the human nature. The students or learners behave in such a manner because they choose to. Individuality may be shaped by genetics, environment and experiences, but the students respond to situation because they made a choice to respond they way they would opt to. If they behave accordingly or misbehave inside the classroom, then that is because the value of subject matter or learning as far as that is concerned is not fairly regarded as important in their own reality.
To illustrate the last statement above, some of my students do not pay attention to my lesson in literature because to them in reality they will not benefit literature like how they would benefit major subjects in Accountancy. This mindset is supported by the Value theory. Brubacher explained in Chapter 8 that the value of education is somehow “to satisfy wants or fulfill [the] needs of the students.” Thus, it explains the behavior of the students.
Lastly, in reference to implementing discipline, we should know better. Corporal punishment and other cruel and unusual retributions including threatening the students are the thing in the past. Sure, we can reasonably flunk them in our class based on their behavior and performance, but then at the end of the day the challenge still greatly lays with us, the teachers. Instead of becoming a tyrant in the classroom, we can be sympathetic counselors (Brubacher, p.209) to our students. In this manner, we may possibly win their heart. Sometimes, to win a hardened and wounded soul is not to implement an iron hand but rather to treat them with kindness and sympathy especially if they lack nurturing in their own home.
Besides that, I too have the same opinion with John S. Brubacher (1939) when he mentioned in his book about the second method of discipline (as bases of classroom discipline) which is to make “discipline coincidence to interesting instruction” (p.203-211). Classes will not be interrupted by the misbehavior of the student/s when classroom instruction including teaching strategies and techniques are interesting. Students will certainly pay attention and even participate during class discussion and activities when the teacher’s method of teaching is exciting and stimulating. This is how far the philosophy of education can address behavioral problems of the students regardless whether they are in private or public schools.