Why Students Can Be Disrespectful in School?

The other day I was watching a British televised series about how students were so disrespectful at school and towards their teachers.. hell, they were even disrespectful towards the very person that could kick them out of school, the principal.
If I am honest I was shocked at what the students were saying and doing in the class room with very little the teachers could do. I suspect much of this is to do with certain human rights laws that are being enforced world wide, something that I do support, but the question is, can these laws go too far and do a complete loop and undermine their very cause to protecting people (can the laws have the opposite effect of what they are meant to be protecting)?
I bring this up as within this TV series, they did an exchange whereby they brought students from China into the the UK to see how they performed in class. The difference was like night and day, with the Chinese students being respectful, listening to every word being taught, never talked until being instructed to do so etc.
Of course I am not saying that is the way we should be in the Western world, as I feel regime type education limits ones ability to think for themselves and expand into bigger and bolder things. However, it would appear we are being too slack, too weak, too much of an extreme liberal culture that appears to promote laziness and a “hand it to me in a plate” type culture and the very thing liberalism is trying to protect is the very thing it seems to be destroying (my opinion).

Comparing This to My Experience as a Teacher

There has always been some form of disrespect by some students, such as the “bad boy” of the classes or the “cool guys” who try to make their mark in the class room. But even back in the days when I was at school, those individuals did not go about trying to demoralise teachers, in fact many of us would be concerned about getting sent to the Principal’s office for a good chatting too. And remember, this was not that long ago, it was not like teachers were allowed to cane us for being “naughty”, but we still had respect for them. So why in the space of about 20 years, ideas so much seem to be changing?

What If Disrespect Comes From Outside The Classroom?

Again, without trying remove any responsibly from the schools and/or teachers (as part of the problem could be coming from us), but where is this disrespect coming from, could it solely be coming from schools or should other places take some responsibility?
Meaning that very few (if any) children are specifically being taught to be disrespectful. When you are born into the world you are effectively starting off with a clean slate, meaning everyone is born without a knowledge of the rules for proper conduct. Therefore we cannot expect a child to respect their teacher when they have never been taught that teachers are to be respected… in fact the philosophy is no different to teachers telling students to concentrate, when in fact in the Western world we do not teach true concentration techniques for holding concentration!

Respecting That Not Everyone Has The Same Views

I also respect that not many have the same views as me, such as this article that I found which essentially says we should listen to the students more and (more or less) mould teaching around their needs… and although I completely agree that teachers can just as easily be the problem and underlying cause of much of the problem, I feel we must also recognise that this disapproval of students can filter into the class room of teachers who genuinely want to help and educate.

I would love to hear any opinions of the matter, because I do try to truly keep and open mind. From experience, I find you you close your mind, sometimes thats that seem counterintuitive ended up working better than the things that appear to make sense on the surface.

Erik Kirkland


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