Thursday, January 31, 2008

Voices of Children

I have spent the last three years trying to understand the reasons for school violence and why students bring weapons to school. I spoke with many students back home, in Dominica who get into trouble and the stories they give about being mistreated by students and teachers are overwhelming. Students described how they were ridiculed in class; in the presence of their peers. They spoke about the many complaints they lodged to teachers, principals for which nothing was done and how their side of the stories are never heard when they get into trouble especially where they are repeat offenders. Thy feel an overwhelming need to protect themselves. Many of them are afraid to let their teachers know how they feel about those things. They believe they will use that against them. And whenever, I attempt to discuss my finding with my teacher colleagues, they become defensive and respond with denial or blame the kids and their parents. I wonder, if teachers know and understand how important they are in the lives of their students.

I got to speaking with my advisor about it a few days ago and we struct a conversation that surrounded the "place, status and voice" of the child in school and communities, the perception we hold about children and the many things we do to let children know their "places". Someone said, "We spend two years teaching our children to speak and the rest of their lives asking them to shut up."

Recently, we conducted an OECS study on school disciplinary issues and we asked teachers how many of them would use a loving and caring relationship to deal with student disciplinary problems and only 8% said they would. It confirmed what I always knew. It can be a cold world for many children.

I need to hear your stories or comments about your life at school, especially if you had a tough time there. Understanding this issue would help us deal with an a potential emergency in education: school violence

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