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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

News Reports

Teaching teachers

I feel sorry for teachers. Now they are going to have a conversation about what sort of values they have to uphold. As teachers, the code has to be stricter than for most I suppose. Just as its stricter for scholars, public servants and I don’t know who else. Lest they bring their profession, institution or agency into disrepute.

There were some noises about this before, way before the case of the female teacher and the 15-year old. I remember teachers having to recite something at an assembly of educators. Now it seems parts of two current documents on ethics will be grouped together and “codified” in some form. Reports don’t say if breaches of the code will bring on penalties. Are these guidelines? Or rules?

What’s good is that the teachers will be discussing the code first. Seems it will get right down to the nitty-gritty like whether they should visit casinos. Oh dear. Is a teacher a teacher all the time, 24/7?  Can there be a separation of personal and professional capacity? ST said that some nitty-gritties are already in place, on sending out suggestive texts and dining/lunching with students alone. I think that’s fine but how much further will the new Code go? Can you imagine a Code that goes like this:

Thou shalt not smoke, swear, gamble or consume alcohol in public places in case students/parents catch you in the act.

In fact, don’t even do it at home – unless you know who your neighbours are.

Thou shalt refrain from touching a student on (itemise parts of the anatomy) to avoid innocent acts being misconstrued.

Better still, never touch a student.

Thou shalt use only good English on social media to set a good example for the Speak Good English movement.

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Better still, refrain from using social media lest your views bring the profession into disrepute – never mind that you are speaking in your personal capacity.

Thou shalt observe civility at all times and practise all G campaigns to be kind, speak Mandarin, do not litter, return your tray, go forth and multiply, be as productive as you can be…..

Okay, I am exaggerating. But it’s kind of ridiculous to expect all our teachers to be saints. Because, as one un-named principal said, you risk scaring away people who can teach. I also happen to think that we pile too much on teachers, practically asking them to do the jobs that parents should take on.

Another thing we have to bear in mind: while the reports on teachers indulging in sex with students etc were embarrassing and high-profile, they were just some bad apples. And you have bad apples everywhere.

Let’s hope that the Code is broad enough for teachers to be themselves and not a strait jacket that will stifle their personalities and turn them into safe but boring automatons.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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