Search Engine


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Manners matter

I posted on my Facebook status a true incident involving a teacher in a secondary school who asked one of her students to help out by cleaning the white board. The student refused, instead he answered something to the effect of, "You have hands, you clean the white board yourself".

I think everyone can agree that this student - who is only 13 years old - is downright rude. It is one thing to refuse to help the teacher, but it is another thing altogether when the student replied in such a manner. He may think that he is cool by responding in such a way. At that impressionable age, so-called quick and witty response especially towards a figure of authority is a form of showing off to his peers.

Bottom line though, the boy has no manners.

I hate drawing comparisons to the time when I was in school. But after having listened to the teacher's story, I cannot but help thinking how much things have changed. Back then we did not dare to speak rudely to the teacher. We may not like the teacher, but we would never want to be seen to be kurang ajar.

Things have changed no doubt. These days, it is difficult to discipline a student without the parents crying foul and/or suing the school and the teacher. I remember reading postings from ex-students of my alma mater in Kulim about our former principal, Allahyarham Haji Harun Rejab. Most remember his famous slap-on-the-face as a form of penalty. Sure, no one liked being slapped or being disciplined for that matter. He was not popular among those who played truant, cheated in exams or had any other form of disciplinary problems. But I am touched by what was written by a former student, "Kalau tak kerana penampaq Pak Harun, aku tak jadi orang sekarang", loosely translated as, "If not for Pak Harun's slap, I wouldn't have turned out right today".

Ask any student, I am pretty sure most would remember the name of the principal and the discipline teacher. They play an important role in shaping the student's manners, ethics and character. At the end of the day, however, I still believe it is parents who play the most important role. The old adage, spare the rod and spoil the child, probably has some degree of truth - and wisdom - in it. I was brought up under a strict discipline regime by my father. I am who I am today because of the way my father brought me up, and because of the way my schooling years shaped me.

Even in Islam, emphasis on good character or akhlaq is given due attention. So, it is indeed sad to see today's students (Muslims at that) behaving badly, ignoring the akhlaq as ordained in Islam, tossing aside the rich tradition of good manners of the East and instead prefer to be just plain rude.

The said student got a tongue-lashing from the teacher nonetheless. Whether or not that will change him, only Allah knows. Having said that, I think the best thing that we can do is to pray that this teenage boy will be shown the light and mend his ways.

No comments: