Teacher misbehavior ‘degenerate’ society

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Children’s development can be encouraged by thoughtful planning of school activities in the school curriculum. Teachers who execute the school curriculum should give students the chance to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and capabilities, and develop socially. However, inappropriate attitudes and poor teaching methods of some secondary school teachers are gravely influencing children’s behavior and learning.

Psychologists view that teachers need to have education effect, encourage students to work in groups, and base their classes on interaction, partnership and cooperation. The school must be the place where students acquire the knowledge, skills and capabilities to non-violently solve conflicts, learn in an interesting and creative ways, interact and establish relations with others, become more tolerant, and apply their acquired knowledge and experiences in everyday life. It can be said that teachers play a key role in enabling all of this for them. Unfortunately, some public school teachers scold, ridicule and insult students who do not understand their lessons, which adversely affects their social development.

Mongolia still believes in traditional understanding of upbringing and education of children, which considers fostering students’ sense of self-worth, critical way of thinking and ensuring their safety are basic skills that need to be taught at school. In fact, the modern pedagogical paradigm views that children’s self-respect, competence and critical way of thinking will grow when they truly experience achievements at both their school and home, and when they start to enjoy learning new things and learn on their successes. It is true that this is not the case in all Mongolian public schools. Conversely, when children are free to express their views without worry or embarrassment, some teachers of state-owned schools respond with anger and punishment, as well as scold them for contradicting what they teach.

In particular, students report that when they do not do their homework, disturb classes, or “misbehave” in any way, some teachers often yell at them and insult them in front of their classmates. This misbehavior of teachers can lead children to feel low self-confidence, low self-esteem, and loss of interest in lessons. Therefore, teachers should not only lecture on the content of lessons in the traditional way but also leave space for communication between students. In other words, they must be able to accept pluralism and allow students to freely discuss different ideas as teachers’ attitudes are crucial for what kind of person the student will become and how successful he or she will be in the future.

Psychologist T.Khongorzul commented that some teachers complain, saying things such as “Even when I explained to students again, they don’t understand” and “They don’t listen to me”. For these reasons, teachers often see children as bad learners, lazy, and so on. However, they do not observe students’ moods or ask why he or she is behaving in this way. Often, children’s actions are directly related to his or her emotional state, T.Khongorzul explained.

‘Teachers’ attitudes influence students’ acts of bullying and discrimination against each other’

Another big issue is discrimination and bullying in the school environment. But teachers themselves are the ones who encourage and exemplify it, according to experts. If a teacher discriminates against someone, students imitate. Violence in the school environment is on the rise as discrimination against children increases due to differences in education and living conditions. Unfortunately, instead of solving this problem, there are teachers who exacerbate it.  

Research has shown that children are more likely to be bullied by teachers and peers in the school environment. It also found that if teachers treat students differently depending on their physical and psychological conditions, as well as their learning and living conditions, it can have a negative impact on students’ psychology.

In specific, during the “Ways to Prevent and Stop Bullying in Educational Institutions” discussion held on March 14, children expressed their views on discrimination and bullying in the school environment.

“Even when children are bullied, they don’t tell anyone else. When we tell our parents or teachers that we have been discriminated against or bullied, they treat it as if it is normal. They say, ‘Because you’re a boy, you can face this problem and overcome it’. This is very common,” one boy criticized.

He also emphasized, “Parents and teachers don’t think about what their childhood was like at all. They treat everything from their current perspective. They say, ‘I was a teenager, too. I know your problem,’ but they don’t understand exactly how I feel.”

 Another student explained, “We don’t want to tell our parents and teachers anything because from an early age, we become afraid of them. If we do something wrong, teachers say they’ll call our parents, bring them to the school and expel us from school.’ There is a perception that if a teacher calls your parents, you will be expelled from the school or get scolded. I am the head of the Youth Police at my school. When children cause trouble, they ask me not to notify teachers, the training manager, social worker, or their parents. Children cannot talk to adults because they are afraid of them.”  

Others mentioned similar things. They said, “Teachers beat or verbally abuse us when we try to explain ourselves or why we ‘misbehaved’. Therefore, we are not able to communicate freely with teachers. When we tell the school administration about this, they say that the teacher has enough experience and skills to resolve this matter correctly.”

A 12th grade male student said during the discussion, “I see social stereotypes as the root cause of bullying. There are many children who can’t express their problems when they are under pressure. Students do not tell anyone, especially if the teacher discriminates against or insults them. Teachers’ attitudes also influence children’s bullying. For example, suppose a teacher calls a student ‘camel’ in front of children. As a result, his or her classmates will start to call the student a ‘camel’. Teachers themselves are exacerbating this.” 

Will education reform address teachers’ ethics?

The Mongolian education system has always had a system of rewarding or punishing (behaviorism) in order for a child to do something. However, studies have shown that this method is only effective for a short period of time and does not affect lifelong behaviors and habits. Psychologists advise instead to use motivation, which allows children to learn in any situation and strive toward achieving their goals without any rewards. Therefore, it is necessary to create a legal environment to address teachers’ attitudes morality and ethics as well as teaching methods.

The government is currently developing a draft revision of the Law on Education to completely reform the education sector. Based on a survey of Mongolian secondary school teachers, the bill includes a moral education program for teachers.  

According to 2009, 2014, and 2021 surveys, most teachers did not study the theory and methodology of moral education at teacher training universities. Currently, the School of Social Sciences and Humanities of the Mongolian State University of Education does not have a separate moral education course in its bachelor’s degree program. Only students aspiring to become social studies and history teachers study teachers’ ethics, according to Associate Professor B.Oyuntsetseg.

In Japan, in order to become eligible to teach in secondary schools, it is necessary to take a course on moral theory and teaching methods. The course covers the nature of morality, the history of moral education, the purpose and content of national education programs, teaching methods, and methods of developing and implementing moral education plans. As part of its education reform, Mongolia is studying how to incorporate this Japanese standard into its legislation.

Of course, teachers without moral understanding and sensitivity are not able to communicate properly with children, so there are still problems between teachers and students in public education institutions. Therefore, this issue should be included in the law very carefully.

Experts also say that teachers also need to be more interested in learning from their students and getting to know them better. Making students feel loved makes them learn better. Regrettably, there is a general tendency for low-paid public school teachers to simply teach lessons according to the curriculum. Surely, it’s nice for any teacher to see students succeed. Some enthusiastic teachers are not paid extra, but they spend a lot of time preparing their students for soum, district, or national competitions.

In order to properly assess the work of such teachers, the bill on education includes provisions to reward teachers based on students’ academic performance. Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Culture, Science and Sports G.Damdinnyam said that this is the most important reform in the education sector.

Minister of Education and Science L.Enkh-Amgalan announced on March 10 that the ministry will move to a results-based financing system within this month.

He highlighted, “The minimum wage has been approved by Cabinet. Teachers’ salaries can beccome any rate. Their work will be measured by children’s learning outcomes. We need to move to a system where good teachers are paid higher than bad teachers. The minimum teacher salary will be adopted and a results-based funding system will be introduced in mid-March. A teacher who has worked for one year will not receive the same salary as a teacher who has worked for 20 years.”

Determining and rewarding teachers’ achievements based on academic performance is one way to increase their salaries. On the other hand, increasing their salaries can motivate them to work better with students, improve their teaching methods and increase their communication skills. Although the government raised teachers’ salaries, it did not stop their unethical behavior. This shows that unless human resources and moral issues are changed, the current outdated approach will not change. No matter how much we talk about Cambridge education and technological progress today, it will be useless if we do not change the attitude of teachers.

It can be said that the future of Mongolia is in the hands of teachers. However, there is no need to talk about a better future if teachers do not change their socialist ways and realize that they are inflicting physical and psychological violence to students. In fact, the school environment should be child-friendly, safe and non-violent. The school environment should encourage overall development of students, respect diversity, and encourage individualization and socialization of the classes. Unethical behaviors of teachers are growing “cancer” in society.

Misheel Lkhasuren

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