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EVERYTHING BUT – School of thought


Ridley Greene

EVERYTHING BUT – School of thought

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Because of their size, parents may be difficult to discipline properly. – P.J. O’Rourke, American political satirist, journalist and author.
TIME?WAS when the teacher and the parent were ramrod rigid. Discipline for them was the training of their charges to obey instructions, rules and follow a code of behaviour.
The mantras of teacher and parent were simply “manners maketh man” and “cleanliness is next to godliness”.
That was until about the 1970s – at the turn of discipline and tidiness. Since then, with the abundant help of the ultraliberal psychologists and child behaviour experts, discipline has morphed into negotiation and compromise with a brat.
And, tidiness and cleanliness are now passé. Disorder, grubbiness and the roughdry are as fashionable today as the tuxedo miraculously still is for the exclusive university graduation and high wedding.
Of course, the drabness was started in the home. Cavalier parents, having freed themselves of the strictures of good behaviour imposed upon them by their ancestors, have not seen it fit to instil any code of conduct in their offspring. It has become as fashionable as being grubby to be lax enough to give unruly children free rein.
Bringing up the child in the ways the Good Book says we should is often overlooked, or avoided, or misinterpreted, or misunderstood.
First of all, the upbringing is too hard a task for many parents, as it calls for time, which they claim not to have. Secondly, they would rather take comfort in the lofty foolishness that passes for the principles of parenting these days.
A result too often is secondary school boys on mornings with their waistlines past their crotches, and on evenings said boys with their shirt tails a-flying and debuttoned. 
Another result is secondary school girls on mornings with knee-length dresses and hairstyles teetering between the lawful and the unacceptable, but on evenings said dresses hitched up above the knees, and hair spiked.
Let me be clear. Not all students do this. There are still some sensible and responsible parents. Matthew Farley, I am sure, will agree.
The delinquent schoolchildren are often the products of equally delinquent parents, truth be told. As exampled by Mr Farley in his Sunday SUN column, parents drive their children to the school gate late constantly – never mind the principal complains ad infinitum. 
How on earth can such mothers or fathers be instilling punctuality in their young for appointments for a job, or for daily work in their later lives?
Among the most unfortunate turn of events is when teachers have to scold the delinquent in their care, or even question their attitude, and in comes the tongue-lashing from the mothers especially, who cry embarrassment and abuse.
They are so protective of these young wild minds, they do not allow them to experience constructive criticism, self-evaluation, disappointment even. No wonder then so many of our youth are unable to stay cool and collected under above-average challenge or stress.
We are in effect producing a part generation of softies – female and male.
In recent years we have closed schools because it was too windy, or the rain clouds were too black – not to mention because of upper level troughs and “inclemency of the weather” – or because somebody spotted or smelled a dead rat.
Those of us who are 60 plus recall the days when schools never closed – except for the traditional vacations and odd day off for Test cricket or Inter-School Sports.
If a school was shut down for one single day in our childhood-long years, it was if your father had won the Barbados Turf Club Sweepstakes, or better yet the top dividend of the Littlewoods football pools.
The weather then was no less tough, but Bajan people and their children were tougher.
The way many of us parents behave on behalf of our offspring, it is as if we are telling them resilience and character are not quite the key. We are well into the change of school culture: dissipating discipline and little backbone.Without even thinking, on our charges we parents have been whimping out.

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