I said I’d write more about kids, teachers and parents. If you didn’t read the first bit then it is at https://wp.me/p8PuzR-Wn . I just want to say a bit more about the role of the teacher and the parent.
#3 First for today a little story about boys and fathers. There was a lady in school who taught Italian. She was a delightful person but she had very little control over her class full of Greek, Italian, Lebanese and Vietnamese fourteen year old boys. This was my class. These were my favourites. But they gave her a really bad time.
One day as I was walking passed the room I couldn’t help but hear. She had complained before but now I was angry. In my role as the level coordinator I had a perfect right to go in, interrupt and ask her if she would like to get herself a cup of coffee. Then I started.
The whole class knew how much I liked them. They could see how cross I was. So I gave it to them with double barrels.
“Why is it that when you are in my class you are respectful and well behaved? Is it because you are scared of me? I know you are not. You work hard, you behave even if I walk out and get myself a coffee. When I come back you are working and I know that.
So why do you show Dr Gallo such disrespect? You know she is a good woman who only wants to do the best for you. So why are you like this? Don’t answer me – I know why.
Boys behave the way their fathers teach them to behave.”
Then I told them what I thought.
You treat all the lady teachers in this school worse that you treat the men. It is the way you see you fathers treat women.”
I knew as soon as I said it I was a bit over generalising but I didn’t stop.
Some of you might just as well walk around school wearing a badge that says, ‘My father treats my mother like dirt’.
I had to be very careful now.
“But you don’t need to wear a badge. The way you treat the lady teachers in this school shows it better than any badge.”
I need a reverse gear. I need to cover my back.
“But I know it is not all of you. Some of you sit quietly and respectfully. And that is the badge you wear that says that your father treats your mother with respect. I know you are all different but one disrespectful boy in a class can do a lot of damage. Now I am going and when Dr Gallo returns I don’t want anyone to try to apologise. I don’t want you to be all quiet and beaten down by a terrifying teacher. I just want you to treat her with respect and treat her the way I hope your father treats your mother.”
Then I walked out.
The next day one of the boys came and saw me.
“Sir, do I treat the lady teachers badly?”
“Yes John. You are one of the worst. And you know it, don’t you.”
“Yes Sir. I know I do. But I am trying not to.”
A few weeks later I went to John’s house for a coffee. I will explain the circumstances tomorrow, but for now I will just tell you what happened.
When I arrived John’s father greeted me in a most polite and obsequious way. We sat in the lounge room; John, John’s father and I in deep soft chairs. At the door half hidden by the gentle lighting in the dark room sat John’s mother, upright on a hard kitchen chair. One of John’s sisters, who was at a girls’ school but about three year levels higher than John, came in and handed around coffee in tiny cups. We talked and discussed things of no relevance to anything. Then, out of nowhere the sister came and took the cups away. John’s father spoke.
“Did you like the coffee? Was it to your taste?” he asked, polite and fawning.
“Yes, thank you. It was excellent,” I said.
“Would you like more coffee?” he asked.
“Yes thank you?” I said.
“Woman! Coffee!” he shouted.
The woman at the door jumped up and went to make me coffee. In all the time he had not introduced me to her, but I knew she was John’s mother. I saw the look on John’s face. He was embarrassed and wished I had never come to his house. But he changed. He was always polite to the lady teachers, from then on.