The Telegraph has reported on a claim by Dr Mary Bousted that over-indulgent parents in the UK are creating classroom disciplinary problems. These problems include failure to pay attention in class, showing disrespect to their teachers, verbal abuse of adults and peers, and using prohibited items in class such as mobile phones. Dr Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teacher and Lecturers, was speaking at the ATL’s annual conference, and remarked that ‘children without boundaries at home resent boundaries imposed at school’.
“It seems to be that far too many children are waited on at home hand and foot. They don’t do the washing up, they don’t do the Hoovering, they don’t make their own beds. We are not doing our children any favours if we make them little Buddhas at home and it certainly doesn’t do them any favours at school.”
A quarter of ATL’s 160,000 strong membership have been attacked at school in the past year and teachers said that it wasn’t just minor physical assaults that caused problems but a general persistent low-level disruption that keeps getting worse. Some note that this declining of behavioral standards is a natural consequence of children no longer fearing adult authority and is a result of the abolition of the cane as a form of punishment in school in the mid 1980s.
Julian Perfect, a teacher from inner London, said successive governments had failed to introduce effective methods of dealing with wayward pupils since corporal punishment was abolished.
He said he was not advocating a return of the cane, but added: “Effective teaching and learning cannot take place against a constant background of disruptive behaviour by pupils. Moreover, where such behaviour is a regular occurrence it should not be attributed to a teacher’s inability to plan and take lessons.”
The ATL backed a motion calling for research into disciplinary measures that would stop problem children from disrupting classrooms and spoiling the education experience for children who want to learn.