Parenting role thrust on teachers

SCHOOLS are there for children to learn and the role of the teacher is to teach, but in today's society the role of the teacher and of the school in general has become a far more complex one than that of simply teaching.

Family life plays one of the most important roles in a child's life, but sadly, we find more broken homes than ever before and, as a result, there has been a shift from parents doing the parenting to schools taking over that role more and more. (This is not necessarily the case for all parents and all homes).

Owing to this lack of discipline, lack of responsibility, of care, of nurturing and of guiding at home, schools are now in the position where they have to deal with the many problems that tend to arise.

However, the difficulty comes in when schools find themselves restricted in terms of staff allocation relative to the number of pupils per class.

Further compounding the challenges are the limitations placed on schools regarding appropriate punishment for transgressions. A pupil who has committed a number of serious transgressions and who in the past would almost certainly have been expelled immediately, now remains the school's responsibility to encourage and to rehabilitate.

As mentioned above, in many cases children are not receiving the teaching and role-modelling of core values at home. Values such as discipline, boundary-setting, respect and responsibility are all crucial values which teenagers so desperately need to grow into secure and successful adults.

As a consequence of the often-found breakdown in parental guidance at home, the school increasingly has to take on the role of parent, attempting to inculcate and nurture sound values.

As stretched and as hamstrung as schools are with regard to teaching loads, restrictions on discipline and so forth, teachers have to work as a team to ensure that the school's policies, code of conduct and regulations are all adhered to. Why?

Because this is where the children will learn those much-needed core values of respect, responsibility, accountability, discipline, punctuality, reliability, etc.

Ensuring that there are clear consequences for transgressions teaches children accountability for their actions – just as rewarding children for work well done – teaches them the value of working carefully and hard, and helps to nurture a sense of pride and self-worth.

Ensuring that their appearance at school is correct teaches our children to be proud of themselves and of how they look, and teaches them that appearance does make a difference. Ensuring that respect and manners are maintained teaches our children that all-important saying, "manners maketh a man".

L Kuhlenthal, Port Elizabeth