I had a most remarkable conversation with a five-year old last week. I was waiting in my car that was parked against a double yellow line, which means no parking for cars on that stretch of road. The clever little girl told me the police would come along and post traffic fine. I asked her why they had to do so. She said, ever so confidently, that the fine was to collect money to give to the Prime Minister, because the Prime Minister needed a lot of money. I asked what the Prime Minister needed so much money for. She said it was “to buy stuff for himself”. I asked where she had learnt all these things. She replied her dad had told her so.
A few minutes later her brother came along. I asked him why the police would impose a traffic fine. He said it was because I was parked in the wrong place. I was quite hopeful this elder kid would get things right, so I asked why the police was collecting the fines. He said it was to pass the money to the Prime Minister, because the Prime Minister was “very expensive”. I asked where he learnt this from, and he said it was from his dad!
The two kids were obviously bright, but with innocent minds. It just affirmed to me how critical it is that parents bring up their children with right attitudes, right values, and right understanding. Education for life, at the end of the day, is the responsibility of parents, not of schools. Schools are the supplement and the complement.
Even so, when parents place their children in schools, they must give the schools the authority to do whatever is appropriate and necessary for the education of their children, including giving principals and teachers the authority to teach and to discipline. In addition, parents must honour their teachers in the way they speak and behave, and must require their children to honour their teachers.
Teachers may not be perfect, but if they are not honoured by parents and children, it is the children that bear the consequence of teachers who are demotivated and demoralized from the lack of respect and affirmation.