I was asked how I felt about it and my initial thought was huh? Come on, this is non-news. Must be a slow news day at ST.
But if you really want to know, I think it was simply a case of overreaction all around.
The teacher taking matters into her own hands and cutting the boy's hair - overreactionReally, do we take ourselves so seriously these days that we have to respond so drastically to every small matter? Or is it just a result of too much stress that we have lost all sense of reason?
The mother making a police report - overreaction
The boy crying and staying home from wushu for 2 days - overreaction
MOE making the teacher apologise and asking the parents to forgive her - overreaction
I have great empathy for teachers - they don't have an easy job and the hardest part is probably dealing with parents. However, I do think this teacher didn't pick the smartest course of action. It's just before the crucial PSLE oral exam - why would you mess with the boy's mental state then? I agree that if the boy had been given warnings beforehand, he probably had it coming. It was a common punishment a generation ago and I just found out that some schools in Singapore still practise this. I disagree less with the act than the timing.
As for the mother, well, I don't think she did herself any favours by going to the police. Auntie ah, police report is for criminal cases hor. Next time your handphone gets stolen, may the police be too busy questioning a teacher for not letting a student go for PE.
Her mention of the $60 haircut for her son also cemented in people's minds, stereotypes about rich parents and their brats. I don't want to judge cos I don't know them. All I can say is, maybe she should sue Reds Hair Salon for an overpriced haircut that didn't meet school standards.
You want to know the irony of ironies? The PSLE Chinese oral conversation topic that day was, "Which is the school rule you dislike the most?" I shouldn't laugh. I really shouldn't.
This incident has created an uproar among netizens and I see many comments along the lines of "in my time, we would accept our punishment uncomplainingly and we all turned out fine! The new generation is a bunch of wussies!"
I always get impatient with "in my time stories" because people somehow like to romanticise the past. The past was not all rainbows and Care Bears. I still have emotional scars from tyrannic teachers who thought it was fun to terrorise kids because they knew we'd be too afraid to tell our parents. Or maybe our parents didn't file police reports cos it's hard to take seriously mata who wore shorts.
But back to serious business. I think the reason why people are so indignant is that this incident is symptomatic of the increasing lack of respect for teachers... and that's a real problem. Some parents don't just question teachers, they teach their kids that it's ok to defy teachers. In this case, even the principal and MOE seem to be condoning the mother's disdain for the teacher.
What parents don't realise is that by undermining the teacher's authority, they're actually sabotaging their kids' education. Compounding this problem is the fact that some parents (and even principals) expect teachers to treat their students as customers. This is just wrong. Students are not customers, they are charges. You give a customer what he wants, you give a charge what he needs. If the charge needs to be disciplined, he should be, in a fair and appropriate manner.
I think people often confuse respect with rightness. Students should learn respect for their teachers, not because the latter is always right. The same way that we expect our kids to respect us, even though we sometimes make wrong decisions or do stupid things, so should our kids accord respect to teachers. It's a right teachers have earned simply for who they are and what they do.
Only when we understand and abide by this principle, then can our teachers be empowered to do the enormous job they've been tasked with - educate our kids.