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THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: No easy fix in wrapper clash


ANTOINETTE CONNELL, [email protected]

THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: No easy fix in wrapper clash

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CARL MOORE WROTE: “What if the teacher – without a word – had  taken that wrapper off the floor and placed it in the garbage bin for the entire form to see?”

John Watson responded: “What  if the student, without a word, had taken up that wrapper off the floor and placed it in the garbage bin for the entire form to see?”

This is where the dilemma lies in the current debate raging over the Springer Memorial School incident that came to light in January. By then the 15-year-old student had been weeks without sitting in a classroom.

But the two gentlemen have aptly put the two sides in the matter, giving rise to the assertion that there is merit in both arguments.

While the shouts for the child to be obedient and pick up the wrapper have been loudest, that in no way reduces the point made about the teacher setting the example and picking  up the litter.

Thing is, it may not be an outright case of litter flying around that needed to be picked, but rather the flexing of authority. Surely if it was a matter of tidying up, someone could have just as easily slipped in and undertaken  the task. The desired results would have been the same.

No, this was a matter of stark authority. On the other side, it was a case of stark resistance.

On Sunday in junior church,  self-control was the issue of the day. The little ones were learning how to resist the impulse to indulge in negative behaviour.

As a test, two pieces of paper were thrown on the ground in the girls class and amazingly many of the Under-10s rushed to pick them up. Some of the older pre-teens and teens were not so enthused. They were content to allow the pieces of paper to sit where they were on the ground.

When the entire class was asked who would be willing to pick up litter if their school teacher asked them, the willing were still in the majority but their numbers had fallen. One visiting 12-year-old did not see any reason why she should pick up the litter – not at church, not at school. A few older ones sided with her and one remarked that there were janitors for that job.

An innocent six-year-old chimed in: “Ma’am, I would pick it up.” She was smiling.

The reaction of the children  puzzled me. They were most willing to do it at church but the school setting evoked a different reaction, a more resistant attitude.

All this in spite of the lesson taken from Galatians 5:22-23. The class discussion had centred on how to react and do the right thing even when you don’t want. Even in the face of provocation or where we clearly  have a point, we were supposed to do the right thing.

They knew well enough these things to repeat, but when faced with an example in which they were put to the test, some chose not to apply the caution.

What can be done?

I have not the answer.

Antoinette Connell is a News Editor. Email [email protected]

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