I had the weirdest class yesterday.
For this class, my co-teacher always comes, but yesterday he had an appointment, so he had to leave 10 minutes into class-time, leaving me alone with kids that (mostly) don’t speak English. The problem with the system here ,when it comes to English education at least, is that the classes are completely unbalanced. I’ve got kids that can’t speak any English in the same class as a kid who lived in Togo for the past 14 years and speaks perfect English. Also, this class is really bad. The loud kids don’t understand English and the kids that understand are bored by what I teach. It’s a tough situation.
A few weeks ago, my boss brought it in big stick to my classroom. It’s a 4 foot long bamboo stick. It’s serious. I’ve taken to walking around with it, pointing at kids, tapping on their desks and such, just to get their attention. Because all of their other teacher wield weapons, I like to think it gives me legitimacy, or something to the kids eyes. Also, it gives me something to fiddle with. When I show them my stick, they’re usually impressed. I like my stick.
Back to yesterday. So I’m in this class, alone with my stick, and I see some kids in the back eating food. I have a no food in the classroom policy. They know that. I know they sneak some in, because there are always wrappers in the desks and crumbs on the floor, but if I see it, it’s confiscated. So I see these kids with food, and I point to them with my stick. I say tell them, in simplified English, to bring the food here and to throw out the wrappers in their desks (I took a look in their desks and there were some wrappers). So the two culprits come to the front of the class, where my garbage can is, and go “We are garbage.” Then one at a time they put a foot in the garbage can (because it’s too small to accommodate two feet). I’m telling to stop and I just wanted them to throw out their wrappers. Following their proclamation that they’re garbage, they look at me and extend their hands and tell me to hit them. I’m like, no way, sit down so I can start this lesson! All I get is a puzzled look. The girl goes “You want hit… on hip?” “NO! I want you to sit down!” They’re not budging. They go through the places I should hit them: hands, hip, head, legs. Then, finally, the boy gently takes my stick (while I’m still holding it) and lightly hits himself on the legs. Apparently this was enough to get them going. They go back to their seats in the back of the class, and I’m telling them to sit down. Didn’t happen. Instead, they stand in the back of class with their arm up (a typical punishment position). I’m just so disappointed at this point. All I want is for them to sit down so we can get the lesson started. Eventually, they did sit down, but nothing got done. Occasionally, when I’d tell students to be quiet, they’d tell me “hit me please.”
I don’t even know where to start with my analysis of this. Seriously. It’s so strange. To me, that episode shows that corporal punishement has gone from a deterent to complete joke for these kids. How sad is that?