Monday, October 30, 2006

Boys and girls come out to play…

...but maybe not in Polish schools, they won’t.

Following the horrific suicide of a girl school pupil after prolonged bullying which resulted in a simulated rape by boys in front of her class, there has been calls from the Education Minister, and many others, for stricter discipline in schools and for coeducation to be phased out.The case has repulsed everyone.

Vice-minister Mirosław Orzechowski (he’s the one who doesn’t believe in Evolution), said that boys and girls need space when they growing up to develop as people:

"it would be a sensible way to gain some reflection on the self during one of life's stormier turning-points, and it would enable children to take their first steps into adulthood in a calmer atmosphere."

I was at an all-boys school (Carshalton High School for Boys) and I can’t say it had that effect on me and my mates. All we thought about by the time we reached 14 or so was girls, girls, girls. I even gave up liking football for a while. At lunchtime we would sneak out and try our luck down at the girls’ school.

Problem was, we were so unused to female company that we were hopeless at chatting them up. Most of us just felt awkward. We had to act ‘mature’ in front of them, because they seemed so much more mature than us. And they were.

Sometimes it was a relief just to get back to the boys’ school with all the lads and act like complete idiots again.

So I don’t think separate schools will make boys any more mature or wiser and any better at relating to girls.

I also don’t think we can generalize about education policy from what is a disgusting, shocking, but rare horror in the classroom.


polishpenguin said...

It's always the government's fault. What the heck ever happened on putting blame on parents for not having enough of responsibility for their children? All of these "new age" parents expect television, other media, and schools to raise their children. Well guess what, that's the parents' job to do such a thing. I've seen on television lately that parents are hiring tutors before they start kindergarten. I mean, you have to be kidding me.

It seems parents are willing to have children, but a lot of them seem that they don't want a thing to do with raising them. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

What the heck ever happened on putting blame on parents for not having enough of responsibility for their children?

Over here it has become a convenient vehicle for explaining fundamental failures of the school system. Sex ed? Uh, parents better do that. Drug dealing? Well, kids have learned that at home apparently. Assaults on teachers? Caused by bad parenting. Failure to provide elementary physical security on school ground, leading to suicides? Parents' fault!

Last 17 years of "liberal" school reforms got us to the point where school practically disclaims ALL responsibility for the students and blames everything on the parents. (Yes, I acknowledge that there are many parents who fail to do their job correctly, however that doesn't eliminate the school's obligation to do its job. Quite to the contrary, in fact).

Anonymous said...

The sad event has little to do with education policy and a lot to do with parenting skills or lack of.

A school system is there to educate and not to be policeman, baby sitters and psychologists. The problem starts with parents that have unrealistic expectations of what a teacher can achieve when there is a parental void at home. How much of the human wreckage can the school deal with as a consequence of incompetent parenting?

When such events happen you would thing it would be a wake-up call to the parents who all too often fail to answer the following: where are my children, who are they with and what are they doing. Sadly it’s not a small portion of parents unable to answer these questions.

There are very few bad children, but many underachievers trying to parent.

No amount of social engineering in the school system can remedy the consequences of what goes on at home. It seem that only once the violence has taken place, the drug problem or the failure to perform in school is observed, is any notice taken of a problem.

The Polish media has focused on the teachers, the school and Education Ministry. There is little focus on the parents of the boys or debate on parenting skills.

The African concept of it taking an entire village to raise a child is correct, the institutions of school, community and family must be functional to get the desired outcome.

There will always be isolated incidence that grabs the headlines, has anyone seen statistics on school violence and where Poland ranks in terms of other European countries?

Anonymous said...

The problem, at least in my neck of the woods, a predominantly Polish-American (but ethnicity doesn't amount to much of anything anymore on the whole) working class (to the extent that there are jobs) neighborhood in a rust belt city in the US, is that babies are raising babies. The teenage pregnancy and young adult divorce rates are very high. These kids are totally unprepared to and incapable of raising their kids to act in a socially harmless manner. The parent(s) is/are typically culturally/educationally underdeveloped and their personal problems are compounded when more often than not they have to work two or more low paying jobs to pay the bills. In other words, it's a *&^(* vicious cycle.

The problem imo in the city at any rate is that forced busing within the city destroyed neighborhoods --villages if you will. Plus folks with better paying jobs left for the suburbs in the '50s and 60s. That left folks who tended to be at the bottom of the working class.

Solutions? I would have been supportive, still am, of busing kids from the suburbs to the city and vice versa. But that was never an option and never will be.

Then again, being a protective parent along with my wife, we both work, depending a lot on a live-in grandma. We scrimp and save and send our kids to parochial school for a Catholic education. A competent and serious principle/headmaster, a nun, keeps the kids in line at least at school, although it seems to be becoming more and more of a difficult battle for her.

beatroot said...

A school system is there to educate and not to be policeman, baby sitters and psychologists.

I agree with that, 100%. ‘Education’ has all but lost its meaning (all it means now is giving kids meaningless bits of paper). It should be about dragging us out of the ignorance we were born with, but now school, like you say, is an instrument for social control. And it doesn’t seem to be working.

The teenage pregnancy and young adult divorce rates are very high.

But this isn’t just a working class problem. My old mate in London has just told me that his daughter – 16 years old? Is pregnant and she is gonna have the kid. I don’t think my mate has really thought about what this means for his daughter yet – he seems mainly worried that she might take up smoking ciggies again after the birth. And that’s going to be the last of her problems. Teenagers, in the 21st century - are not meant to be mothers. Period.

But maybe it will make her a little more responsible than she has been. I doubt it.

As Mullets says, blaiming it on just parents, or schools, is simplistic.

This is going to sound old fashioned, but notions of ‘authority’ are collapsing. Now, some of the old authority figures where I am from, and the institutions that were attached to it (the Queen, the church etc) I am not sad have collapsed and good riddance. But we have to have something to replace them. And we don’t.

So it’s no winder kids are going off the rails. We have to decide what it is we are meant to respect. And we don’t.

michael farris said...

There's lots of blame to go around for the current problems in Polish schools among Polish young people.

1) Polish schools are traditionally teacher-centric. For some stupid reason, there have been attempts to unilaterally make it student centered even though there's no particular desire for this among students. Instead, the message students have gotten from this wrong-headed policy is 'anything goes'.

2) Public education has gotten short shrift for the last 16 years. Teacher pay is kind of an insulting bad joke. Private education has flourished, but this means a lot of kids whose parents can't afford/aren't interested in educating their children are permanently locked out of personal advancement. That's how you create an underclass.

3) On the whole the majority of Polish parents don't do a bad job. Overall parenting skills here seem (to me) to be far higher than in the US (or UK from what I've heard). But there is a big weakness: Polish parenting relies _heavily_ on precedent and many Polish parents are reduced to helplessness when confronted with new situations (as have dominated the country in the last 15 years or so).

4) The mass import of brainless violent US media to a population that's conditioned to regard _anything_ from the US as instructional material was not a good idea. Poles are conformists to the core and if they come to think that violent idiotic behavior is the norm, many will try to comply.

That'll do for a start.

That said, the current proposals strike me as wrongheaded (at best, I'm trying to be diplomatic here).

Special schools for problem kids sound like prospective factories for turning out hoodlums. Problem kids do not need to be around other problem kids as their main source of peer reinforcement.

Sex-segregated schools sound like a answer looking for a problem to solve.
Having the option of single sex schools is not a bad idea, but forcing kids into them is nuts. Some children do better in single sex environments while many don't.

beatroot said...

You are right about this nonsense of ‘student centred’. What should be a teaching strategy to ‘make students think for themselves’ really turns, as you say, into ‘anything goes’. And teachers always did collude in the ‘cheating’ that was and is rife. So how can a student respect those people? But this problem is wider than the school and reflects something about the society it takes place in. But things are much worse in the UK.

roman said...

I can relate to ig da geez's comments about private educational institutions. One caveat, however, needs to be mentioned. Sure, parochial (Catholic) schools have produced an overall better quality of education but remember that the student's parents are most likely already heavily invested in the care of their young. This is evident by the fact that they are spending more money and as such we can deduce that a larger measure of import is being assigned to this responsibility.
As such, it is more than likely that these parents are more heavily involved and motivated in making sure their offspring's upbringing is more intensively guided both in school AND AT HOME. With the current pressures of sustaining the new and popular dual income lifestyle, this guidance may be taking a back seat more and more often and thus even private education is no longer a guarantee of success. There is no substitute for parental involvement at every stage of a child's apbringing.

polishpenguin said...

Michal Farris,

"4) The mass import of brainless violent US media to a population that's conditioned to regard _anything_ from the US as instructional material was not a good idea. Poles are conformists to the core and if they come to think that violent idiotic behavior is the norm, many will try to comply."

I disagree with media causing violent behavior. There's countless teens that have played war games and have seen violent movies, but haven't gone out on the streets and have do that such of thing. Why? Because they know what is right and what is wrong. And that goes back to parenting. Violence has been in the media since the 40s and 50s, how about those John Wayne westerns?

US media is very dubbed down compared to Europe. There's much less sex and violence in US media than in Europe's media.

beatroot said...

Roman’s right: the educational success of faith schools (Catholic schools have always did better in UK) is not because of the ‘faith’ but other broader sociological factors. They tend to be middle class schools. Middle class schools do better than working class schools.

And penquin is right about the media. Pictures, games, words do not cause behaviour. Those games, pictures, words have to be received and processed by a human brain before they have any meaning. And the way people react to those images depends on the individual. When black kids hear some Jamaican MC go on about ‘kill all batty boys (gays)’ why don’t all his fans go out and kill gays? Words by themselves like that have no power at all. So the behaviour is caused by the person, and they are completely responsible. Humans are not attack dogs waiting to get let off the leash.

Anonymous said...

BR wrote: So it’s no wonder kids are going off the rails. We have to decide what it is we are meant to respect. And we don’t.

>>> This cuts to the quick of it.

With everything imaginable up for ridicule (freedom, freedom), nothing's left sacred. All that's left is individual gratification.

Anonymous said...

Not all parochial schools are middle class, at least not in the US. But those below the middle class line, I'd say, still do better than their equivalent public school counterparts. This may not be simply or strictly a matter of "faith" but that's the backbone of it. And it has a lot to do with the cultural or faith-based expectations placed upon students by school teachers and administrators -- which need to be backed up by parents and is for the most part because they made a conscious choice to send their kids to be educated in such a disciplined environment.

beatroot said...

They are middle class in UK because most catholics are middle class in UK. Most of the schools are girl's schools as well. Girls do fine in signle sexed schools, boys do worse.