A long time ago, I noticed that a little girl’s knees were getting dark and calcified. She was then in one of the nursery classes. I decided to chat with the class teacher after the child explained that they were made to kneel down a lot at school. The teacher actually acknowledged that she made them kneel down most of the time when they were in class because of their noise-making.
I couldn’t help but express surprise! I was surprised that the teacher was able to stomach the sight of children between ages five and six years who knelt down almost throughout the day, even when they were writing!
“Has this measure made your nursery children achieve the discipline of keeping quiet in class?” I asked rhetorically.
“As long as they make noise, they will continue to kneel down” was her evasive response. She made this response without emotion and assertively to communicate her dissatisfaction with my unpleasant reaction to her ‘disciplinary measure’
I couldn’t help but fill my mind with an array of questions: are nursery children no longer the ‘busy bees’ that they are? Is there really any anything a teacher can do to get them achieve the discipline of keeping quiet in class when they are not engaged in an age-appropriate activity-based curricular or extra-curricular learning process? Was the teacher not rather guilty of having unrealistic expectations from those children? Was she not lacking the classroom management skills that are motivation driven? Did she receive the necessary training as a nursery teacher? Was she not aware of the Montessori educational approach? Was she happy and satisfied being a teacher?
Children at that age are usually active. I believe that the ‘noise’ should not have arisen if the teacher applied the right approach. The punishment the children were exposed to was unnecessary and very ineffective in achieving the desired result. Such harmful and unfair practices precipitate negative emotions in the children, which adversely affect their academic performance and proper personality development.
School administrators should please devote enough resources and attention to issues of staff selection, motivation, training and monitoring so that the right methodology will be applied in raising children who are academically sound and emotionally stable.
Great teachers and parents are aware that children’s learning activities are designed to accommodate their respective developmental peculiarities.
Uchenna N. Nduka