Friday, August 06, 2010

Earned privilege

Interesting that in the general meeting with P, he mentioned how past college Principals ran their campuses with less emphasis on extrinsically enforced discipline so that the environment would be more akin to that of the university and away from the secondary school. These days we feel the need to lay down the law as the kids seem to be either lacking in direction or the ability to discipline themselves.

Times have changed. Comparing senior high students of the past with those of the present, the big difference was that "in my time (cough... cough... hack... hack...!)" my contemporaries were proud to be college students. When they wore their uniform, they wore it with dignity because so few others were privileged to wear the crest, those colours. They represented the best and brightest of their cohort, on the cusp of a very privileged level of education that would put them in a social strata above the general population. That meant living up to a higher calling, meeting standards of decorum and courtesy befitting of the upper-class they were destined for. Principals of the past didn't have to worry about behavioural micro-management because the intrinsic motivation to self-manage was already strong in their students.

What has changed since then is the loss of pride in being a college student. No longer a privilege to be studying in a JC, it's now a basic expectation for every secondary school student. The kids here feel that there is nothing special about being here. There is no sense of accomplishment or achievement but rather a perception that it's just a normal part of all the rights and privileges they feel are entitled to them. They're not really here because there is a burning desire in each one to be here; they're here because everyone else is here. A college education is nothing to aspire towards -- it's become common, average and taken for granted.

If junior colleges have discipline problems, the root cause is the loss of earned privilege. At the risk of sounding elitist, we've let the riff-raff invade our campuses and infect us with their common mediocrity. Be that as it may, since they're already here it's up to us to run our campuses not as survival boot camp which further reinforces the competitive dog-eat-dog slave mentality that our current kids have, but rather show them how to live up to the higher standards they are being called to. We teach them to raise their eyes, not drop their chins. We really don't want to become a secondary school. That would be a huge and probably irrevocable step backwards.

No comments: