Elementary school teachers mean well, I guess, when they impress this upon their wards. And as far as I can see, the kids take it well, too. However, past the time the kid knows how to go to the bathroom on his own, their teachers assuming the surrogate parent role is tantamount to usurping parental authority. In the long run, having a second parent saddles older schoolchildren with debilitating identity crisis and role confusion. And who would want the kids to be put in a dilemma when they have to choose? We just assume they won't have to, but what if?
Think of twenty-something teachers playing surrogate parents to teenagers. Di angayan. That's kind of pushing it, don't you think?
So, past Grade 2 at the latest and it's time to drop the act. Okay?
I really hate it when a kid comes to me with the mistaken notion that I would be as forgiving as his mother when he can't come up to what the course requires. More so when his classmates could. More often than not, this would be a kid who was made to believe that all teachers are second parents. And so the world owes him a living. Who's your mommy?
Yeah, right. I am a teacher, and if I were indeed a second parent, then that kid would have been the product of my unwanted pregnancy.
When did our classrooms turn into our students' homes? The way I see it, it's those students who can't tell where they are at the moment who have a difficulty coping with academic demands, which is what the classroom is for, by the way. And I'm afraid these spoiled brats were conditioned to deal with their roiled emotions first — not to mention their need to comb their hair and powder their nose while class is going on — by their teachers in basic education who had this inordinate hankering to bleed off high oxytocin levels in their bloodstream by engaging in nurturing behavior.
This surrogate parent thing could also be self-serving, as teachers subconsciously or consciously use the kids as convenient targets to unload their emotional baggage. How often have we heard of inappropriate teacher behavior, of teachers throwing a tantrum or having crying jags in front of the class? Some role model. And more often than not, it's a gender role model, too. Aaargh. As a parenting style, that one definitely stinks.
As a parent, I think we should claim our exclusive parental rights and jealously guard against encroachment into our territory, no matter how well intentioned. We owe that to our children.
As a teacher, I think we should respect the exclusive parental rights of our students' parents. Okay, I'm trying to be polite here. What I really want to say is "Butt out". Go make your own children the next time you feel this yen to mother.
Multiple roles in singular interactions tend to be confusing. Stressful, too. Who needs that?
(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to [email protected] "Send at the risk of a reply," she says.)