My "Too Cute"s

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Of Teachers and Aliens

Inez has stopped going to school. Or rather I stopped her from going to school upon her refusal to go to school. However, she has promised to go to school next year. And she doesn’t mind going back to the same school if her brother is also going. It’s really going to be a busy year for her next year coz I also intend to send the both of them for Iqra’. That will take 2 hours of their mornings daily. In the meantime, it is back to homeschooling for Inez. She’s giving my mom a hard time coz it takes her hours to finish an exercise. No wonder she doesn’t like school. I talked to the kindy teacher and she said that once upon a time, they didn’t give homework to students but parents came back and told her that once kids start attending school, since they were not used to homework, so they couldn’t cope. So this school started giving homework as well to train the kids that school life sometimes involves homework.

Did anyone hear RedFm this morning? Nell and David played an interview about a little 8 year old girl who had vomited in class and was smacked on the shoulders and was called ‘Pengotor!’ by her teacher? So many comments! Teachers are rolemodels, they are teaching the students to behave and be like them! One caller gave an example of 4 friends who so happened to be laughing when a teacher walked by, and this teacher wrongly assumed that they were laughing at him, and so went over and punched each student in the back. Parents reported this to the HM and the teacher called them out in class the next day and somewhat challenged them, saying that he was not afraid of anyone, so they can go report to whoever they liked. Sound like brave words from a scared man, I’d say. So this caller disagrees that it should be handled locally or internally first, as suggested by an earlier caller! She suggested that the Ministry should prepare a guideline for when things like this happens. Ideally, the teacher should’ve instructed one child to call for a cleaner and another to get a cup or glass of water. The child could have been very sick. Another called up to say that the teacher should apologize to the student and the class for the bad behavior exhibited because that’s the adult thing to do. Children should be treated with respect.A lady with 6 kids of her own says not to blame all teachers; treat it like an isolated case. Maybe she’s had a bad day and this was just reflex. Teachers are human too (prone to err). Another called up to say that he had a similar experience and it happened back in 1988 and it was in the papers. The headmaster himself was involved in the incident. Another SMSed to say it’s difficult to find quality teachers. Some say it’s because of the pay. Some say it’s not. But alas, no teachers came out to give their two cents worth about what was being said.

Then again, would what they say change anything? People seem to have a preconceived notion of what a teacher should be and shouldn’t be, of what a teacher should do and shouldn’t do. Sometimes people forget that teachers deal with so many many many students a day and each student has a different behavior and stories.

Just before I stopped Inez’s school, I was feeding the kids dinner and Inez said that she didn’t want to eat anymore because she didn’t have an alien in her tummy anymore.

“How do you know?” I asked. Then she told me that the teacher said I had lied to her. I was upset. “What exactly did your teacher say?” I asked.

“Teacher say there is no alien in my tummy and that Mummy lied to Inez,” Inez answered.

“Why did she say that?”

Apparently, Inez told her teacher that she has an alien in her tummy which will grow if she doesn’t eat and which will shrink if she eats. Okay. Then? Then, the teacher said that there was no alien and that I, the Mummy lied.

“Who are you to negate what I tell my daughter?” I thought, “especially when you don’t know the circumstances.” Because of the alien, my daughter has been eating very well since the 2nd day of Raya. She keeps pulling my head so that I can listen to her stomach to tell her that the alien is getting smaller.

On the 2nd day of Raya, Inez wore a fitting T shirt which revealed the roundness of her tummy. I sighed loudly, saying, “Inez, Inez, so skinny, and yet your tummy is so huge like a balloon!”

Suddenly, my sister-in-law said, “Inez, I think you have an alien in your tummy. So you’d better eat. If not the alien will grow and grow and then come out to eat you!”
I joined in and said, “if you eat, the alien will shrink and grow smaller and smaller and disappear. But it’s not easy to get rid of the alien, because you’ve not really been eating for a long time.”

So between the two of us, we created an alien that doesn’t like to eat rice, or vegetables or drink milk. So a lot of this will cause the alien to shrink. The alien loves junk food and even fries and sausage if she eats too many fries and too many sausages. This was backed up by my husband and reinforced by surprise, surprise! Senario XXX that was shown on TV that night, which featured aliens! Wonderful!

So when we got back, my mom also got her to eat using the alien, and Inez started eating more. I was so proud of Inez and so happy to see her eating well….until she came back and told me there was no alien b’coz I made everything up. She’d only been eating for like 5 days!

So to continue the story, I asked my daughter, “Eh, who do you want to believe, your Mommy or your teacher?” In my mind, the teacher should ideally ask who said it and why. There must be a reason why a mommy would tell her daughter that she has an alien in her tummy.

So when I went to work the next day, I was telling my friend all about it and told her I felt like confronting the teacher for telling my daughter that I was lying without knowing the circumstances. After listening, she said, “The teacher is not in the wrong. It’s true, you are lying la.”
“I know I’m lying but the teacher shouldn’t tell my daughter that or she should check with me first! Why would I be lying unless it’s for a very good reason!” I maintained.

“Well, it’s a teacher’s job to tell the truth. If there’s no alien, of course, she’ll say that there’s no alien, you cannot fault her for telling the truth to your daughter.”

“Yeah now she doesn’t want to eat!”

“Well, you have to train her to eat without resorting to lies.”

Hmmph, easier said than done. I’ve tried everything I could think of, including getting her to help in the preparation to making shapes and faces, everything’s been tried and tested and so far nothing has worked. I never thought of using aliens to get her to eat. Common sense, health, science and beauty reasons don’t work on her. Not force, nor threats nor coaxing.

“Well, can’t she just say, ‘Okay, if that’s what your Mommy told you.”

“Do you know, nie laa susah jadi cikgu (this is why it’s difficult to be a teacher). Do you know how many students a teacher is in charge of and how many stories a day she has to listen to and figure out which ones are made up or true or false? Takkan laa nak call up every parent for verification?”

So my friend has a point. I can just imagine the situation for the teacher. I still believe she shouldn’t be so quick to negate my alien, but I understand her position.

I managed to re-convince my daughter of the alien. She has been eating very well again after two days of not eating so well. My mom had a hand in making her believe again too, I’m sure of it. As for teacher in RedFm’s Mid Week crisis, I think she needs to clear the air, have her say and explain things from her point of view. I know kids are honest and they don’t mince their words. Sometimes, however, their honesty is also selective. I remember my daughter telling my mom she’s eaten nothing even though I gave her fried mee-hoon that morning, or telling me that she learnt nothing from school because whatever she did for the day, she was not interested in. So, it’s not that they are lying but telling the truth about what matters to them from their own point of view. Therefore, we are only viewing this from one perspective, and should listen to the other side as well. And we shouldn’t be so quick to judge before we understand everything fully. However, if the teacher was in the wrong, she should apologize and change her approach and methods in dealing with this. Since she’s teaching 8 year olds, this is bound to happen again.


halwafy said...

About the alien in your daughter's tummy, I agree with you that the teacher should have allowed Airis to believe that...she should just have said 'Really? There's an alien in your tummy? What does it do?' Or things like that..she should have used the topic to talk more to your child and listen to her ideas..NOT to turn the topic into a lesson in logic and even worse, to call one's mother a liar!

Bad teacher. No sense of adventure and no creativity. Wonder how she would like it if her children's teacher called HER a liar.

jujuqtpie said...

I like it that you agree. It's always nice to have support and I really still believe she shouldn't have said that I lied. Of course I lie to the kids all the time, especially to get them to eat. Maybe I should wear a sign, "I'm a LIAR and PROUD of it!"
Inez eats satay but doesn't know it's chicken. She eats fish nuggets but I don't tell her they are made of fish cutlets. If not, she won't eat. "I don't like to eat fish." Once she thought a prawn was a fishball, and I continued to let her believe it. Then when I tried to pass off prawns as fishball again, it didn't work. Mom gives her egg fried rice every once in a while but she thinks it's butter fried rice, which is okay coz she loves butter. Only recently, I managed to get her to try eating egg omelette, so she eats eggs now; even so, it has to be fried macam restaurant tu. But I imagine the teacher has to deal with an assortment of stories, not just ones that Mommy's made up. So in that position maybe it's difficult. However, if she uses the topic to listen and converse with the child, that would be even more wonderful. "Really, you have an alien? Why"
Inez would say, "Because Inez doesn't like to eat."
Then she'd say "Why don't you like to eat Inez?" and explore my daughter's complicated mind and she might just help me solve Inez's eating problem by maybe giving her some advice saying, "Oh you should eat more because ....."
Perhaps if she had humoured Inez, I would've considered her a better teacher, rather than getting upset with her for undoing all my efforts to get Inez to eat.