Child’s Rights and Discipline: The UNCOMMON Theory (23)

Opening Charge

‘Let me share with you some experiences in my childhood, which prepared me for the destructive habit of not hearing others out before passing judgment on them in my early adulthood…When I was in the primary school, I lost a friend while we were playing, my primary 3 teacher, who was not there and did not bother to ask me what the matter was concluded I killed my friend and nicknamed me ‘Esu’ (the devil)…’

Dear fellow custodians, it is my pleasure to be here today. No thanks to the formidable combination of distraction and writer’s fatigue, I was not able to make it to this page yesterday. All efforts to get rid of ‘The Trouble Two’s’ proved woefully abortive. I think I receive situations like this with mixed feelings: first, it is a proof of my humanity, a necessary thorn in the flesh that helps one not to think too highly of himself. Second, if feel the disappointment first to my personal integrity and to my readers, who look forward to receiving me here daily by the promise, I voluntarily made. Nobody forced me to make the promise.

All said and done, I find my consolation in the fact that I am back here today, making attempt to keep my promise. Thank you for bearing with the feelings of my infirmities. Please permit me to share with you today, the 18th core habit of a purposeful, disciplined and effective disciplinarian: Hear the Child out before applying disciplinary measures:

I began to talk about the Home or Family Justice System two days ago. I think it is a document we may have to spend some time with. Many of us believe that the child should be ‘disciplined’ by impulse. We believe that if we have to sit down and make rules, we have given a lot. I mean we have given a lot that we are not sure the child even deserves.

Many hold the view that it amounts to bending over backward and committing ourselves to the rules we have made is doing what Napoleon could not do. In fact we should be praised or awarded a prize for granting rights to the child, we should not have granted under normal circumstances.

Well, if you belong to the foregoing category of custodians, I may be stretching my luck too far this day advocating that the child must be heard before we decide whether he/she deserves chastisement and if he/she does, which type of chastisement he/she deserves. As awkward as it may sound to an African custodian, it is the truth of justice and child development. Hearing the child out will not only give justice to the spirit and the soul of the child, it will teach the child how to give justice to others now and in the future. Please note that a child and an adult, who is not able to give others justice will live a terrible life and will not be in a position to influence others.

It is sad when we do not hear people out before we decide on their culpability and mete out disciplinary measures. Disciplinary measures should only follow after we have taken time to hear out the person suspected to do a wrong. Hearing does not amount to believing. It is in fact not a commandment to believe what we have heard. It is not advocacy to exonerate the one that has been heard. It may provide the facts to establish his/her wrong. It is a commitment to hear and subject whatever one hears to objective scrutiny. I will build on the foregoing when I address our next habit. One thing, we must know however is that hearing pleases the conscience of the one on the spot of wrong doing. The truth is that nothing is as it first appears. As an adult, I have found myself in situations, where all the facts come together by way of circumstantial evidence to lead to a conclusion that I was wrong or culpable. My innocence was only established to a very large extent after I had the opportunity of narrating my own side of the story.

If a child is not heard out, he/her will not hear others out now or in the future. He/she may fall in love with his/her own opinion so much that he/she may not have space in his/her ears and heart to any other opinion. He/her may not be in a position to maintain meaningful relationships as he/she would make conclusions about people and situation and act on it before hearing them out. In many cases, he/she may never bother to hear them out as he/she makes far reaching decisions that may have grave and negative implications on meaningful relationships.

The foundation of this kind of damaging habit is that this adult was not heard out as a child before conclusions were made about him/her for which, he/she suffered a great deal. Therefore he/she does not have the culture, habit or civility of hearing others out before concluding on them and taking actions according to his/her unverified conclusions.

Such man I was before God helped me. I was never heard out as a child both at home and in schools. I grew up to make far-reaching conclusions on people and situations without hearing the people involved out. I must tell you, it is a habit I have fought very hard to deal with in the last 15 years of my pilgrimage of change.

Let me share with you some experiences in my childhood, which prepared me for the destructive habit of not hearing others out before passing judgment on them in my early adulthood.

One day, it was time for dinner and I sat before my mum to be served. Instead of being served the food for which I expectantly sat, my father served me a very dirty slap that flung me off my seat and brought out stars from my eyes. I was never told what I was being punished for neither was I aware of anything I had done that day. When I was in the primary school, I lost a friend while we were playing, my primary 3 teacher, who was not there and did not bother to ask me what the matter was concluded I killed my friend and nicknamed me ‘Esu’ (the devil).

One Friday, I was playing with sand in front of my classroom, a female pupil came and stood in front of me and said, ‘he is the one.’ I was picked up immediately and taken to the staff room where one of our teachers beat the living daylight out of me, without asking me a single question. God knows that I did not offend anybody that day.

I was being bullied by a classmate, who would not allow me to breathe in class. One day I got angry and hit him on the nose. He began to bleed. A man, known as Oga Idowu found us. He didn’t as any of us any question. He simply took us to the principal’s office. The principal did not ask me any question. That was actually my first time in his office. He brought out a book and wrote my name therein. He thereafter looked up and said to me, ‘your name has been written in the school’s black book.’ I went home feeling cheated and dejected. Before that day, I did not know there was such book called Black Book. I was not told what it stood for and the circumstances under which a pupil’s name will be entered therein. Above all, I was not asked any question as to why I punched my classmate before I was docked and a supreme judgement passed on me.

My charge to us today is that even when a child breaches any of the rules, his wrong should be explained to him and be offered the opportunity of a defence. In doing the foregoing we will not only be giving the child justice, we will be also be teaching him/her an invaluable lesson in interpersonal relationship: hear people out before you make conclusions. Stay INSPIRED.

Think the child…Think Today…Think Tomorrow…

POINT 2 PONDER:

‘It is sad when we do not hear people out before we decide on their culpability and mete out disciplinary measures.’

NOTE THESE:

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