It has always been said that teaching is a noble profession and the teacher is a respected person. But today teaching has lost « ses letters de noblesse » and the teacher is no longer the respected person. That mark of respect and affection which the students nourished for their teachers has disappeared to make room for defiance and lack of deference for the teacher. Today anyone who is in the field of teaching will tell you that teaching has become a veritable uphill task, especially in State Secondary Schools with the mounting indiscipline and violence at school. A friend of mine who has just retired as education officer told me if he were to start again, he would never join the teaching profession, and still less recommend any of his children to join that field. The reasons behind that disgust for teaching are that the growing indiscipline coupled with an acute lack of cooperation on the part of the learners for the teacher. Instead of helping the teacher to help them, they just do the contrary. They deliberately put a spoke in his wheel with their incessant chatting, ludicrous comments and their misconduct which make the task of the teacher doubly difficult instead of helping him or her to do the class. They fail to understand that without their undivided attention, the teacher cannot teach. Most of his time is spent in bringing his class under control. Very often the situation takes a turn for the worse when the class-disturbers refuse to comply with the order or when they become more rebellious feeling hurt by the remarks of the teacher.

Such a class can give the teacher a tough time and make his job doubly difficult. This kind of class situation may sour his attitude towards teaching and make him develop a distaste for his job. The new generation of students is becoming more and more assertive and recalcitrant. And teaching them is definitely no picnic to a new recruit or even to those who are already in that field.

Anyhow teaching has to be done. Schools and colleges cannot be closed down because of the mounting of indiscipline and violence. It is to be noted that all the students are not class-disturbers. Only a handful of them who disturb the class and prevent the teacher from doing his class. Teaching can be a sheer pleasure as well as a drudgery. A teacher who is confronted with a class of thirty-five pupils/students or more may find his work a real uphill task if he does not get the total cooperation of the class. A class is usually made up of learners of different temperaments. There are those who are willing to learn, and are therefore cooperative and tractable, and there are those who are utterly uninterested in their studies and are therefore mischief-prone and uncooperative. Very often a class is made up of a mixture of these learners, and teaching in a class like this is a real drudgery.

So what is the solution? How can we help the teacher to teach and ease his job? How can we make teaching regain « ses lettres de noblesse »? Yes, we can, provided the political will is here! To clamp down on the growing indiscipline at school, I suggest that Secondary Schools move on to camera surveillance in all classrooms and on the school compound along with discipline wardens. Each level of a State Secondary School should have a discipline warden whose role is to monitor the behaviour of the students, their language, way of dressing, punctuality and be ready to intervene in any class disturbance. All these should be partnered with class civism and moral values ― what they should do, what they should not do and what they need to do.

Camera surveillance is an effective tool in the process of teaching and learning. It assists class control and allows more discipline at school. It helps the teacher to teach and the learners to learn. Once the students are conscious that they are under camera surveillance, they behave otherwise since their behaviour is monitored and recorded, and can be reviewed.

A school which is bankrupt of discipline is like a ship without a rudder. It drifts from the direction it is supposed to take with the result that the school system itself is wrecked. Discipline is the basis of a school where teaching and learning are solidly anchored. Therefore in the absence of an uncompromising discipline, it is the performance of the school which carries the can.

By Raj Paneken