Friday, 23 May 2014

Teacher bad ethics revisited

Fredrick Qaphelani Mabikwa Successful Solutions
LAST week I discussed some bad teacher ethics that tarnish the image of the profession. This week I want to close this discussion by highlighting a few other areas of bad ethics in this noble profession. Abuse of school property: Some teachers are entrusted with school property like vehicles, computers, sports equipment and other gadgets used in the school. You will find some teachers abusing school property. Vehicles carry building material and some are seen on the road “pirating” as taxis. Some powerful teachers will have first priority on the use of school vehicles over students.

This is very bad. Sports equipment is taken as personal property by some sports teachers. You find a sports teacher’s child wearing a school sports uniform over the weekend. There is need to respect school property all the time.

The complaining brigade:
The complaining brigade (cb) is a group of teachers in a school whose KRA (key result area) is complaining. These are teachers who are obsessed with complaining to the extent that they now operate like a club in the school. Even in the staffroom they sit together in a certain corner from which they launch the complaints. Their preoccupation is complaining against “unfair” treatment. They complain against the head’s privileges. You complain about the head. He/She is not one of you. That’s why your titles are different. They complain about being overloaded with work. When there is food at any time in the school they complain about being given small portions. When there is food they are very active. They do not want to do sports and they complain about sports taking too much of their time. In fact whenever they open their mouths, a complaint comes out.

I am in no way saying teachers should be quiet when things go wrong in the school, a big NO. All I am saying is that I have seen teachers who don’t teach but just wait for an opportunity to complain. Half the time, this is compensatory behaviour, they are lazy teachers. Even when they meet parents they are complaining about the “bad” goings on at the school and now this is gossip.

The teaching profession was never meant for lazy people, it is not for lazy people and it will never be. I articulated in my article “Commemorating May Day with Teachers in mind” what this job entails. The planning and evaluation for each lesson taught and the marking involved especially in Arts subjects. Now you will find a teacher’s schemes of work are not up to date, the lessons are not evaluated. These are done only when the HOD or another superior asks for the schemes of work. The schemes are always done in retrospect and at times you find the lazy teacher indicates that he taught on a public holiday because the schemes are all lies. There are no records of marks for the students. Come consultation day the teacher only shows the parents one mark which he claims is the average for the whole term. Books are not marked, when they are marked as I have already said, it’s peer marking, students are marking each other’s books. When assignments are given at higher levels the books take a month to be marked.
Teacher bad ethics revisited

Students are always writing tests whose results they never get to see. One of my lazy lecturers at UZ in the late 80s was asked about the results of a test he had given us and his reply was, “Common sense must tell you that your papers are not ready, if they were ready I would give you the papers, I don’t have a single reason for keeping those papers. After all the test was my idea not yours.” Such were the words of my educated lazy teacher. Now how do you deal with such ineptitude?

Some teachers have lost energy. You find a teacher is teaching while seated, almost talking to themselves like a news reader. At the sports field they are not on the pitch, they are barking instructions from under a tree where they are seated.

Financial indiscipline
While this is not a factor in direct classroom teaching, financial indiscipline affects many teachers in their performance. When someone is heavily indebted and they are failing to manage their finances they cannot perform. With the economic crunch, teachers become targets for everyone who is selling their wares. They come into schools with chicken, clothes, pots and pans, vegetables, laptops and printers you can name it. They allow teachers to take and pay on payday.

You find someone takes everything, others are taking in the staffroom and you wonder how they will pay. Come month end, the teacher is off sick. If they are around they are hiding in their storeroom because the business people have come to collect their money. The teacher is so stressed they can’t teach. Their phone is ringing; retail stores are also phoning them reminding them of their arrears. I am not saying teachers must not take things on credit but for some businesspeople teachers have become an easy target. You find a teacher even owes the school tuckshop a lot of money. This is very bad.

In the rural areas, the local businesspeople open accounts for teachers and transactions are entered in a small a book. The teacher is drinking beer on credit throughout the month and writing in the small book. Come month end . . . the teacher is at zero and starts writing in the small book again and this goes on and on. I am writing from experience as I was once a rural teacher. Some take these soft loans “chimbadzo” and they are in perennial debt because when you enter “chimbadzo”, it’s a life sentence you don’t come out — it’s like riding at the back of a lion, you cannot disembark.

At my other school a male teacher was dragged across the school by his neck tie by a very big woman he owed “chimbadzo”. This was really drama for the students — they were running behind the two shouting and laughing having a time of their life.

How do you regain your dignity after such an incident? Can you still be an effective teacher after this? Let us as teachers just learn to live within our means. The habit of taking things on credit just because the other lady teacher has taken must stop for ladies. Some of these lady teachers are “competing” with peers who have husbands who are gainfully employed elsewhere and you are a single mother.

I want to conclude by discussing insubordination which in short is disrespect for authority. There is authority in the school. There is the head and deputy, senior teachers, heads of department and even house masters. These people must be respected. I have seen teachers who don’t respect their heads. As I said you find them walking into a meeting at any time. Some deliberately don’t take instructions and when they do, the job is half done. Some teachers have spoiled their relationships with their heads to the extent that they can’t communicate with their heads. If they have an emergency they would rather phone a colleague to pass the message to the head. The head is not respected by some men because she is a woman, the head is not respected because she is single and has been given all sorts of names — this is very bad.

Some teachers don’t respect their HODs because the HODs are not degreed and they are. Degree or not the HOD is your boss. Some teachers do as they please at sports — “bunking” — there is no respect for the teacher in charge of sports. Insubordination is actually a chargeable offence in the profession. Let us respect our superiors as teachers that is the beginning of our success. When you are a nuisance in the school, promotion opportunities come and you are not promoted and you say they hate you . . . no, it’s your fault.

I conclude the series of these articles on the teaching profession by wishing our teachers all the best in their work. I want to urge all teachers to improve themselves. There is a lot of universities now in the country. The country has 12 now if my Maths is correct. Be degreed, that’s the way all teachers are going now. If you sit and enjoy “power” and beer and you are not degreed the system will flush you out very soon. The signs are visible.

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