The Malta Independent 25 April 2019, Thursday

‘It’s all the fault of educators!’

Andrew Azzopardi Wednesday, 6 February 2019, 10:37 Last update: about 4 months ago

These last weeks we have seen a number of stories inundating our media portals that have put a great deal of attention on young people.  Namely, the case of Maximilian Ciantar who ran over twins some years back and continued with his spree of car related incidents becoming disreputably famous for his long list of traffic violations.  He has now ended up in prison.  Liam Debono, we all know.  He is being accused of running over a police officer with intent to kill.  Another case that is unfolding is the recent spate between adolescents in a secondary school.

We can go on forever. 

More often than not many affirm that our educational system is unable to respond to this chaos.  It is circulated in the media and fuelled by public opinion that finding fault with such behaviour greatly depends on a frail educational system.  People seem to ask; “What were the teachers doing to allow such problematic behaviour to slip through their fingers?” or “Didn’t the head of school notice anything iniquitous?” or “What about the other professionals who roam the school corridors, counsellors and all the rest, where were they?” or some would cut the corners and say: “It’s all the fault of educators!”

I can understand why that is a predominant discourse. 

A lot of people are all out to criticise the educational system as being inefficient, ineffective and defective believing it is not addressing the needs of students and subsequently society.  At least in this skewed interpretation of the situation I see a positive angle, namely that we still have a lot of belief in this Institution because it seems that we want it to excel and outstrip the inadequacies most criticise it for. 

Yet again, I disagree that we level out one wave after another of criticism to our schooling system.  We must admit that it has given us people of repute at all levels of society who have outdid people coming from larger countries with educational systems we look up to.  It is a system that has inspired many to lead in their respective sectors. Educators must be doing something right!

This is not to say that the educational system is perfect.  Obviously, there is and will always be room for improvement.  Of course we need to see some step-ups, for example; in our teacher training, improved resources, better trained social welfare professionals that give a service in schools, better use of technology, improved relationships with the community and the family, less reforms that cause fatigue on the educators, enhanced salaries, and conditions of work, ejection of useless competition between institutions offering teacher training and so on and so forth. 

Notwithstanding, I am convinced that our system is not to blame for the mess that some young people slide into. 

I think what happened was that we conveniently shifted our attention away from how children and young people are brought up at home by putting the onus completely on our educational system.  The message that we are propagating nowadays is that from birth to adolescence children are plugged into the structure and expected to get all their nourishment (sometimes even their diet) from there, and all they have to do is turn up at home to sleep.  

And this is where it gets all perplexing. 

As if the educational system can teach you respect, veneration and honour in the same way that family can!

As if schools have the magic wand to solve the violence and aggression that children are exposed to in some of our families!

As if educators can replace the void of ethical and principled behaviour that parental and family role models should be catering for, by sampling and giving the proper example! 

Our way of life has changed so dramatically and so quickly that we can’t seem to keep up with adjusting and transitioning serenely.  I am not one to be nostalgic.  Today’s lifestyle and life opportunities are way better than anything we had to contend with when I was still a teenager.  There are endless opportunities, whether it is travel or educational opportunities, whether it is number of courses at University, MCAST or career chances.  It is all there.  Without wanting to sound too dramatic we have our own ‘Maltese Dream’; upward mobility for several, wealth for most, estate, accumulation of fortune and so on and so forth.  The covert and overt script we get nowadays is that if we work hard and save some money it will make good for our children’s aspirations and maybe help them settle into a life of their own choice, with a quasi-guarantee that they will succeed and have good quality of life. 

But there is more to it. 

I think the family needs to think through on what is happening here.  We have new realities that need to be solicited. 

Let’s grin and bear it.

It has become increasingly difficult for people to hang on to their marriage, divorce is now easily available and the social shackles that used to keep people together have been thwarted.  People feel that it is easier to disband a relationship than it was ever before.  This affects children.

Not only that, it is turning out to be for most ‘career’ and economic wealth above everything else and once again this affects children first and foremost.

When we do not dedicate time for our children we are risking big time, and here I do not mean just quality time but solid hours of quantity time.

I need to put in a disclaimer here.  

I am not in any way judging people.  We choose the life we want for ourselves but my point is simple, we cannot make our own decisions, create opportunities for ourselves without taking the brunt and the fallout.  Because that is when the criticism for the educational system starts getting messy and prejudicial.  All of a sudden it is the fault of our educational system, our teachers and our schools when parents and guardians do not carry the upshot of the choices they made.  Adults should be accountable for their actions.

If you had to pinpoint what is holding children and young people back, what is getting them in a muddle most professionals and research will indicate lack of structure, inadequate parental time, shallow relationship with family members and a lack of emotional preparation.  Sorry, but from where I stand, this is not about our educators, this is about our parenthood or lack of.  We need to decide.  We either go down the slippery slope or re-think our priorities.

  • don't miss