Of discipline in large groups of the very young

I am sure that maintaining discipline in the classroom is an issue across the world. I have moved from England where discipline in the school is at an all time low. Teachers often refuse to apply for jobs to teach those over the age of eleven, even if they are more than qualified to do so. There are others, with tougher skins and years of experience who manage to get through a school day, dealing with whatever the unruly and directly rude students deal out. And of course there are those, of the immortals, who actually manage to engage even the toughest of them in meaningful dialogue and take them forward in their education and career.

And then, I move to India, where the slightest bit of dissent is unacceptable. You as a student are powerless. The teacher has all the rights in the classroom and they can chose to say or do what they please. Just this week a poor young girl died after having been hit by her teacher in a government school and being made to stand in the sun for over two hours – an extra hour for having asked permission to drink water after standing in over forty degrees for an hour. At another school, one of the best this time, the students were made to stay without fans for 40 minutes (at 38 degrees celsius) because they forgot to switch off the fans when they left the classroom for their break.

Generalities in a country like India are meaninless. As they say – whatever you say of India, the reverse is equally true. With that caveat in place, I suggest this hypothesis – that, in India, ritual humiliation is used as a tool for creating conformity and obedience. This has nothing to do with creating discipline. This is a means of subduing those who are vulnerable. I wonder whether this could be called institutionalised bullying.

Maybe my lenses are coloured, maybe I am an outsider and see things differently. I am happy to have a discussion about this one, but I strongly feel that this is wrong.

Is it right for teachers to order children just because they are small. Should children be trained in kowtowing to those in power, just because they are in a position of power. Of course there are advantages to creating un questioned heirarchies, as everybody at the top knows.

But, is that the role of education?

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