R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me...that Aretha song has been stuck in my head for a week. Last week I wrote about the lack of respect students have for their teachers and how teachers are not held in the same regard as they once were by parents. The comments that followed the article were fascinating. Some readers pointed out that people in general have less respect than they once did and others claimed that children are disrespectful because they are not disciplined severely enough at home. But, what got my attention was the argument over private/parochial schools vs. public schools.
Several readers felt that parochial schools turn out more respectful citizens due to the strict environment. Is that true? Many said they were respectful when they were in school because they feared the consequences which centered around corporal punishment. One thing I know for sure is fear and respect are not the same thing. Treating a teacher respectfully because you are afraid is not the same as respecting your teacher.
I work with students from public, private, parochial and charter schools (all of them respectful), so I asked some of them if they think kids are more respectful in private, parochial or charter schools compared with kids in public schools. Although I asked them individually, they more or less all had the same answers.
One student, from a parochial school, had this to say: ”In my school, there are less students in each class so each student gets more attention. You can’t get away with as much as you would in public school where there are so many more kids in classes.” She also felt there were “bigger consequences” but only because teachers could focus more on individual students.
A student from a charter school agreed. He believes, “In smaller schools you get more attention. In bigger schools you can just blend in because teachers don’t have time to chase down every kid. Also, when I was in public school, being disrespectful to the teacher garnered respect from peers. The culture is different where I go to school now; there is more mutual respect between students and teachers.
While I was trolling the Internet looking for studies or articles about this issue, most complaints about disrespectful students came from public school teachers. A majority of these teachers cited the parents as being disrespectful as well. One blog pointed out that there are less disrespectful students in private schools because the private schools, unlike public schools, can just “kick them out.” In addition, when parents are paying a substantial tuition for a private school they have chosen, they usually believe the teachers are of higher caliber.
So it seems there is a higher percentage of disrespectful students in public schools. The question now becomes, “What are we going to do about it?”