22 February 2019
Teachers should be understanding and caring when dealing with schoolchildren. Photo: HKEJ
Teachers should be understanding and caring when dealing with schoolchildren. Photo: HKEJ

Lessons to learn from kindergarten slapping incident

According to a local media report last week, a kindergarten teacher in Ngau Tau Kok slapped her pupil who walked out of the classroom and came back with a broom to clean up his desk where he had accidentally spilled water.

As seen in a video clip from a CCTV camera, a teacher grabbed the boy and took away the broom, while another teacher dragged him back to his seat, scolded him and slapped him across the face.

As I see it, the two teachers were so concerned about their role as disciplinarians that they only saw the need to maintain order in the classroom.

Thus, it’s not hard to understand why the teacher ended up resorting to violence.

The boy, first and foremost, was regarded as “disobedient” since he had spilled water over his table, left the seat on his own and came back with a broom that seemed inappropriate to be in the classroom.

The teacher tried to stop what she considered as misbehavior by keeping the boy back in his seat, scolding him and applying corporal punishment.

From my point of view, the teachers might have looked at their pupils as “criminals” and the classroom as “a detention facility”.

That’s why whatever the pupils did that was out of the customary was viewed as detrimental to classroom discipline, and the teachers felt that it was their duty to correct such misbehavior.

Thus, by analyzing the incident, we could conclude that:

1. The two teachers should have affirmed the boy’s actions, and instead of scolding and punishing him, should have praised his readiness to take responsibility for his action.

2. They should have patiently explained to the boy that the proper course of action was to use a table cloth to wipe the wet table, instead of using a broom. They also should have reminded him that he could leave his seat and the classroom only after obtaining the teacher’s permission.

3. Corporal punishment has no place in the classroom as it is deemed to bring about serious psychological consequences on the student involved.

In this case, the boy might feel hurt, making him hate school and not want to go back. Worse still, he might pick up bad habits, become aggressive and resort to violence.

Last but not least, the classroom should always be student-centered, especially in a kindergarten.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 14.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

Kindergarten fires teacher caught on video slapping a pupil (July 5, 2016)

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