Role of Parents and Teachers in Absolutism of a Child

By Saif Ur Rehman TGT FG Public School Boys Kharian Cantt, Pakistan

Text read by Mary Peters

Absolutism is the concern with rules. According to the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget,
(1896-1980), playing children become aware of this around the age of five. Children have blind faith in rules and ideas of right and wrong that their parents give them. Children regard their parents as the ultimate arbiters of these rules. They perceive these as being quite absolute, subject to no arguments, compromises, or changes of any kind.

Parents and the community play a vital role in the absolutism of the child. A five-year-old child tends to believe the rules. Parents are responsible for refraining from doing anything in front of the child that causes abnormal behaviour. They must expose the child to an environment they want to see in the child as a grown-up. They must keep him away from the company of children who are delinquent and learn substandard behaviour. They must teach and demonstrate before him the values that are standard. Parents should give friendly advice and avoid quarrelling, admonishing abusive language and corporal punishment. Mothers must not cheat the father in domestic matters. Parents should impart punctuality, obedience, politeness, truth, honesty, love, cooperation, tolerance, self-help, a timetable in a friendly way. The long company of parents, proper monitoring and guidance is necessary at this stage.

An important factor is the company of parents. We often observe that parents usually send their child to school, and then, after school, they force the child to attend nearby coaching classes. It spoils the personality of the child and creates a gap between parents and the child. It also exerts pressure on the mind of the child. It constricts the child like a sparrow between the claws of an eagle. In this situation, a child tends towards negative influences. And when once or twice he finds it works, the child develops an attitude that becomes permanent behaviour. Delinquency and crime become the seeds in the child’s personality. A child also reflects this in the classroom. A teacher may notice and try to combat this. However, because the child receives regular reinforcement from his street and home, the attempts by the teacher may prove to be ineffective. 

Parents can arrange for books and electronic devices to help the children remain exposed to such material and develop a better morality. Videos and picture books are ideal for teaching morals. They can give children movies or cartoons as entertainment and share stories with moral lessons again for both education and entertainment.

Absolutism, as hard luck would have it, is ignored in most of our schools. Yet, the learning power of the child is at its height at an early age. Children learn well anything you teach because the mind immediately accepts what the elders or teachers do. It is the ideal learning stage. The English philosopher John Locke (1622-1702) asserted that the child’s mind is a Tableau Rasa (a blank slate) on which you can write anything; it will leave its impression. At this stage, the child has a quick susceptibility for anything he observes and learns. However, children already learn uncountable things before they attend school. Their minds are not “tableau rasa”. All this distracts from classroom rules and management. 

But it would be quite a wrong concept to say that now the teacher has nothing to do. We need active and competent teachers for the children at this very stage. We often see that most of the school headteachers detail newly appointed or untrained teachers in primary classes. It implies that they give no or very little importance to primary school classes, and it is the biggest mistake ever committed by the headteachers. They forget the psychology of the young learners. They do not remember that only a strong foundation can let them construct a skyscraper. The result is dyslexia. We find in many cases that the students of grade five and above do not even have the basic three skills of reading, writing and arithmetic that is the major requirement of the learners at the primary level. We must consign certified, well trained, and experienced teachers to teach young pupils at schools. We must have a robust arrangement of activities, separate places, or playgrounds to play with their classmates. We need to separate their cafes and washrooms. We must remember, if there are high school scholars, they must not mix with these children in any way. When a school holds functions in which students of all grades participate, the gathering of all students can be allowed. However, we must keep their seating separate and under the supervision of class in-charges. We should also remember that only learners in the same grade should participate in competitions and co-curricular contests.  

The subject teachers must teach children in all possible interactive ways. The headteachers must also arrange for the ICT for effective teaching and audio-video aid. The use of a computer can be beneficial here. They can teach using videos and audio. Drills are the most effective tool for these young learners, and computers are the best aid for the purpose. Different poems, stories, and mathematical videos can have a positive and fruitful effect on their learning. Even the repetition through a computer is quite an easy, enjoyable, and time-saving factor in the class of such young learners. 

To forge an atmosphere of creativity, we can use blocks and complete a picture by joining different parts. Only well trained and experienced teachers will skillfully use picture books to improve vocabulary and drawing boards to satiate the aesthetic sense of a child.

To conclude, if we want to produce well educated and learned individuals, we will have to teach and train our young learners in true spirit. Both parents and teachers must be vigilant of the learners and provide them with a comfortable environment to develop good morals.

Education 5 – When I went to school

Text read by Mary Peters. (Please note the audio text differs slightly from the written text due to last-minute changes in the written text).

Julia from Mannheim describes her schooling.

I went to school in Mannheim, Germany from 1997 to 2010. Generally, we had classes from 8 am to 1 pm, Monday to Friday, depending on the year and the class. Most lessons were 45 minutes in duration, but we also had 90-minute lessons for compulsory subjects such as Maths and German.

Class sizes tended to vary.  In French, we were only seven pupils, which was great because you could learn better in a class with seven than thirty. There had to be a minimum of five pupils per class. I remember once there was a physics class with five pupils. We could change our “core subjects” if we wanted to. By the end of the year, there was only one pupil left in that class. We joked if the teacher used the board or wrote directly into the pupil’s notebook.

We had many subjects, including German, Maths, English, French, Spanish, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Music, Art, Sports, Geography, Social Studies. In my last two years, I could choose the subjects. In grade 7, I could choose between French or Latin. chose French. It is such a beautiful language, and Latin had limited use for me. I thought it was a dead language. Then, in grade 9 we could either choose between Spanish or Science & Technology.

German and Maths were compulsory subjects. You also had to choose a foreign language, and a science. My “Abitur” was in German, Maths, French, English. These were the subjects that were tested.

We used books, the blackboard, the OHP and we had a computer room. I remember my first email address; we were in the 8th grade, and the teacher said we would all need email addresses in the future. I used my school email address many years later. I used the Internet at home to prepare for presentations, but we did not use it at school.

I also attended some seminar courses called “Schüler Ingenieur Akademie”. It was a project in which different schools and local companies participated together with the University of Applied Sciences.

As a team, we built a little robot, solder all the pieces together, learned how to programme it. It was fun. It was the closest thing to my future career. The programme started in year 12 and it lasted about 15 months. We met for one afternoon every week, often on a Friday.

Our work could be credited towards the Abitur. I had to apply to participate in this project. This programme was special because it was organised by companies as well. I do not know if the companies were “talent scouting” but certainly it gave us an idea of what companies were about. It was kind of advertising for being an engineer, which I now am.

The lessons were very interactive. The organisers wanted us to participate, to exchange thoughts, to discuss. The problem was, as the pupils got older, they did not want to participate any longer. Only the truly enthusiastic stuck it to the end.

I think the academy was good preparation for my life. In school, you learn how to socialise, communicate, get along. But much of the content in the subjects I no longer really use.  But one can never tell. I wish I had paid more attention to German grammar because it is so important in my current job.

Our teachers were super friendly. I know they went to field trips with us, which they did not have to do. Some teachers invited us to their homes for dinner, to talk about different things. We were treated as young adults.

My German teacher in the Abitur class still stands out. We had to read certain books to prepare for the Abitur. It was so much fun. He was a genius at explaining.  Nobody wanted to read Goethe’s “Faust”.  But the way he discussed the play with us made it fun and exciting.  We also had to read, “The Trial” by Franz Kafka. How he explained the books to us, his thoughts! I think I can still remember every book we discussed.

It is hard to compare my schooling years with those today. I do not really know anybody close enough who goes to school at the moment. What I hear during the pandemic is that the use of technology in classrooms has not developed that much.

Most of the time I enjoyed going to school. I liked seeing my friends, I think I liked learning. Sometimes I miss seeing the same people every day. The friends I travel with are from school and we are still in contact.

But going back to school? Phew! No! Now it would be boring. With the knowledge and experience you have gained; it wouldn’t be that challenging. But on the other hand, does learning ever stop?

Education 3, When I went to school.

Carolina, who lives in Wissembourg, went to school in Lisbon.

I went to a school in the suburbs of Lisbon from 1997 to 2010. We usually had classes Monday to Friday, from 8.30 am to 5 pm with 2 afternoons free. Always Wednesday, the other one changed every term. There were about 30 of us in a class.

In the beginning, when we were between 6 and 10 years old, we had Portuguese, History, Social Studies, Maths, Geography, Music and Sports.

Then, when we were older, up to about aged 15 we learned Portuguese, History, English, French, Art, and Sports.

Then in the final three years, things changed. I could choose from different options. I chose the Science and Technology path, (Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, Portuguese). For me it was easy, I liked maths. The other options were not for me. I was not great at Maths, but even worse at humanities. And for the future, it was better to go this way. 

For the core subjects, you had 2 lessons per week of 90 minutes each. The other subjects: only 45 minutes. For the most important core subjects, we had 3 units.

My best friend chose languages. So, I was alone in my group. I did not see her that often, we did not have the same interests either. But we are still in contact today.

Until the last 3 years, the teaching was very theoretical. There were PowerPoint presentations, we had to ask and answer questions and do group tasks. It was interactive, with a lot of dialogue and a lot of homework. In the beginning, on the weekends, we had so much homework, that I met my friends in the library. We studied and researched together. We had more contact and not everyone was at home with Google.

In the last 3 years, we started to get our hands dirty. We had a lab, a lot of biology and chemistry lessons. We did experiments, calculations, and interpreted the results, and wrote reports. We spent a lot of time outside for our physics lessons and completed simple experiments and measurements. It was fun.

For Portuguese, we read Portuguese literature. But because it was not my thing, I always looked for summaries from other students. One book did capture my attention. It was The City of the Blind, written by José Saramago. I read it when I was 15 but did not quite understand it. It’s good, very deep, I wanted to read it.  

I had average marks. It was enough to get through. Grading was from 1 to 20 with 20 being the highest score. You needed a 10 in all subjects. I had 10 in maths and sports. It was the minimum to get through. I did not have much motivation because my learning environment was difficult. I did not want to go home. My teachers just said I had to concentrate more, work harder. Others tried to motivate me, but I did not understand their message. During my school years, I lacked a healthy learning environment.

I graduated and then I started university and studied physiotherapy. My grades were average, I was not motivated, unsure of my choice of subject, so I decided to quit after one semester. I took some time out and had time for myself. My motivation returned and I caught up on everything, repeated my A-levels. I studied on my own, at home. I had an average score of 18 points. I did not do all subjects, just focused on science. Then I was accepted in the science faculty and I started to study Energy and Environmental Engineering.

Teaching materials? Some teachers used PowerPoint, but often it was a normal textbook and a board. We had notebooks and something to write with. For science, the school provided the material.

For me, school alone is not there to prepare one for life. One learns how to think and how to solve problems. I did not have that expectation. Today, for my work, I probably apply around 20% of what I studied at University. However, our teachers taught us how to think, find information and apply it outside of the classroom. The role of teachers should be to show us which tools are available and challenge us to implement them on a daily basis.

My favourite teacher was a Russian woman who taught calculus and algebra. She was cold, militaristic, polite, and extremely disciplined. Her intentions were good. Despite the subject being difficult, it was fundamental because it served as the basis for our lessons in the future. It was clear to me that she wanted the best for us. She tried to do her best. She challenged us and I love challenges.

I cannot say much about schools today. I have too little contact. But, I have the impression that many of today’s children spend a lot of time in front of screens. Adults are partially responsible for this. Children have more difficulties with social interaction.

I liked going to school. I have fond memories of this time.

To stop learning? Never!

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Education 4, When I went to school.

Monique & Bernard, Seebach, France

“I went to the protestant school in Seebach. In winter, three pupils were responsible for heating the classroom with wood,” said Bernard.
Monique, “I went to the mixed (protestant/catholic) school in Wingen. The teacher was responsible for the heating. We only had wood burners, no electric heating or oil heating.”

We went to school in the 1960s and 1970s. Bernard, “I went to the kindergarten in Hunspach for two years and then for one year in Seebach. Then I went to the elementary school in Seebach, when I was six.” Monique, “I started school in 1966, we did not have a kindergarten in Wingen. The elementary school was in a separate building.”

We had lessons from 8 am to 11 am and then 1 pm to 4 pm. We did not have school on Wednesdays but instead, on Saturday mornings. “Because there were too few children, we had two classes in the same classroom”, said Monique.

Bernard, “Our lessons were not by the hour, they were by the half-day. So, Monday mornings perhaps, we had maths. Later in the collège in Wissembourg we had 60-minute lessons, always in different subjects.”

In Seebach, we had about 15 to 16 pupils per class. Always the same group. In the “collège” we were 25 – 30 pupils. The classrooms were full. Boys and girls were together. The days were long, especially when we to the collège and the Lycée. We left home by 7 am and got back home at 6 pm. We had lunch in the school canteen. In Winter, it was dark when we went from home to school and back.

We had Maths, French, History, Geography, Religion, Sports, Science, German (first foreign language), Latin, a little English. It was enough! The day was full.
“I liked Geography, History and Sports,” said Bernard.
Monique, “I liked French, German and Science”.

Life at elementary school was strict. If we made some mischief, the teacher hit us on the fingers with a ruler. Later, in collège, it depended on the teacher. “Our maths teacher was very, very strict. But we respected him. He was very authoritarian. But then, other teachers were less strict. The sports teacher was more relaxed than the French or Mathematics teacher. We respected them because our parents were also very strict. They did not want to have problems with our teachers.”

In the elementary school, we had pictures on the wall for us to learn the words. The teacher turned the pictures so that we trained our memories. We also had to learn the multiplication tables off by heart. This was the first. Every morning, we had mathematics drill.

In Geography, we had a map of the world. The teacher had a long wooden pointer, he pointed the country on the map. He asked us what country or French region it was, and which city was the capital or principal city. Then we learned the rivers, how long they are, where they flowed to. We had to repeat the answers. Then we had to write a test.

We had books with a lot of pictures, perhaps more than today. In elementary school, we used ink and wrote with a feather. Later, we were allowed to use a fountain pen. We had exercise books for French dictation, and for all subjects. Each exercise book had a different colour for each subject. The textbooks were owned by the school. They were given to us at the beginning of the school year and we had to return them at the end of the year. It was our responsibility to keep them in good condition for the next student. The best memory for both was, “we used a blackboard and chalk.”

We learned to respect in Elementary school. In Collège and in the Lycée we learned the subject and the preparation for the future and the Bac.  But after the Lycée, the learning really started. The Bac was the ticket to the next level. If you did not have the Bac, you went to professional training schools and then you could get a job. In our time, it was very easy to get a job.

Bernard, “When you were 14 (after the elementary school) you had the choice to go to collège or do an apprenticeship in a company.”
“But the system had changed when I finished Elementary school,” said Monique.

The teachers were very humane. They were good, you could talk with them, but we didn’t really do that. You could trust the teacher. (If you behaved).

We did not really have any favourite teachers.
Bernard, “The best teacher for me was in elementary school in Seebach. Mr Schwarz. He was professional, he did not differentiate between the children, all children were equal. You learned things from him. This was the basis.”

Bernard, “In elementary class, one month before Christmas we learned and sang the text of a Christmas carol every day. Every year it was a German carol (not a French carol) special for the Christmas event in our church. In our time, Mass was in German. It was very boring because we heard the same carol for one month.”

Monique, “We learned the spelling and the words with pictures on the wall. Every day, the teacher flipped them, and we gave the answers. For all correct answers, we received one point. For ten points, we received a picture of animals. It was a big challenge for pupils.

Our teaching methods were more basic, the material was simple. We discovered the world only via books and maps. Today, methods are more advanced and different. Schools use computers and the Internet.

“I suppose it hasn’t changed much. We liked going to school, sometimes we didn’t. When we had difficult times, it wasn’t so much fun.” said Monique.

We would like to go to school today only for a short time to discover the current methods and new technologies.

We stopped learning with 18. We started to work.

Education 2, When I went to school.

Text read by Mary Peters

Sylvie, Schleithal, France

I went to school from 1980 to 1997. I spent eight years in the primary school in Roppenheim, then I went to “collège” (Middle School) for four years in Soufflenheim and then to the Lycée (High School) in Haguenau, about 25km away from home.

Our school days were from 8 am – 11.30 am and then again from 1.30 pm to 4 pm. We did not have school on Wednesdays but Saturday mornings. In the collège and the Lycée, school started at 8 am. I was back home by about 6 pm, Mondays to Fridays. Our class sizes were around 20 in the primary school. Later we were about 30 per class.

 Lessons lasted about 2 hours per subject, and in primary school, we had French, German, Sports, Maths, Religion, Geography and Physics. In middle and high school, we also had Economics, Biology, Chemistry, English, French literature. During the last year of school, Philosophy.

Our teachers did the lesson on the blackboard and then asked the class questions to check if somebody did not understand anything. On some days, we had to do a surprise task.  The results went to our overall grades. Naturally, we hated this because we could not prepare and often the results were bad.

Education here in France is very theoretical. I do not think this is good preparation for the future. I think the system in Germany is better. While most of our teachers were humane and OK, some did not understand our problems. We had different teachers for different subjects. I remember, our Economics teacher was like a friend to us. He often met the class outside the classroom; that made the lessons easier.

Today, kids are much more connected, and I think teachers demand much more than when we went to school. The subjects have become more difficult. I cannot help my daughter with her schoolwork, and I would not have the patience to go back to school. I am happy that I learn every day.