Who Is The Real Culprit Of Corporal Punishment In Iran's Schools?
Eleven Reasons for Corporal Punishment in Schools
1- Crowded classrooms and merging classes to reduce economic costs.
For example, two 18-person classes merge into a 36-person class in most parts of densely populated areas of Iran, no matter what the consequences would be in terms of quality of the teaching and managing the classroom., Furthermore, the crowded classroom puts a nervous pressure on the teacher during the school year. The stress generated by this pressure causes them to sometimes get out of control. Even parents with five or less children might sometimes get angry and treat their own beloved child harshly. Now visualize dealing with 36 people or more in a classroom and teaching science.
2- Lack of appropriate encouragement and punishment rules.
Let me share a memory with you: once, the school Principal where I used to teach forced some students to clean up the schoolyard and pick up the garbage because they had dumped a lot of rubbish in the yard. Of course, he gave them all plastic gloves but the families of those children involved in the cleaning were not happy and treated the Principal harshly. Families said: ‘Are our children your sweepers’? The Principal was eventually reprimanded by the district education office although these methods are used even in very technologically advanced countries such as Japan.
3- Lack of a happy atmosphere in schools.
Remember when the school students danced to Gentleman’s song? Typically, religious people are chosen as Principals for schools and they perform and promote all kinds of prayers and religious grief ceremonies weekly at schools. They only promote sadness. The least important class is physical education. It is only 1 hour once a week, giving the students a ball to play with on an asphalt field at best
4- Teachers have lost their prestige, due respect, and dignity in the eyes of students and their families by being frequently diminished by the State Media.
Iran is a country where its government has tried to portray teachers as an enemy for years. Plus, you can imagine a how low a position a teacher would have working as a driver, as a second job in the materialistic society such as Iran Sometimes, teachers are picking up their own students working as a driver.
When students of an uptown school are allowed to make fun of their teachers for having a simple car (or no car at all _ the teacher’s social position goes down everyday. When teachers with 25 years of experience live in a rented house and their children ask them: “Why did you become a teacher with such a low income?” there is no dignity left.
5- Shortage of professional student Counselors and psychologists.
As there is only one counselor in a 500-student school, it means that for the educational system, Counselors are not considered important.
Sometimes school principals have no choice but to use counselors to work as an assistant, because the shortage of school assistants in the school pose other problems for them.
6- Families’ disregard for counseling
When parents are asked to take their child to a psychologist or psychiatrist, they are often upset. They most often say ‘my child is healthy’, while counseling can be very helpful
7- Choosing teachers based on Doctrinal and political beliefs instead of selecting teachers who are mentally apte.
In this approach, teachers are asked religious questions about the principles and sub-principles of Islam, Velayat-e-Faqih, and the Marji’ Taqlīd, which has nothing to do with education. But it seems that for the government the Shi’ite beliefs of a teacher are more important than the mental aptitude of a teacher.
8- One-sided news in the media
Teachers do not usually talk about events related to their profession in order to maintain their reputation. There are many teachers who are attacked or threatened by students or their families but they stay silent about it.
9- Using educated soldiers as teachers
Not everyone has the capability to teach and manage a classroom by just having a degree.
10- Financial difficulties of teachers
Teachers whose peace of mind plays a major role in the future of millions of students in the country have no peace in their own lives. Being a teacher means being patient. In Iran, most teachers have two or three jobs. Teachers must have limited teaching hours in order to have the necessary energy and mental endurance to perform their very demanding jobs but instead, they have to have high numbers of teaching hours to make the ends meet. ,
11- Corporal punishment
The most important reason is that when students are accustomed to corporal punishment by their own parents, it is difficult to manage them in a crowded classroom. Although corporal punishment is not justified at all, teachers are only human beings with limited capacities and abilities. Many things might affect them to lose control.
Finally, I must say: schools are only a reflection of our society:
Students who are allowed to go freely to adult cafes are in an atmosphere where cigarettes, hookahs, alcohol, and drugs are easily available to them. Instead of having access to leisure facilities such as swimming pools, cinemas, and sports clubs. Children who are severely punished or even occasionally tortured by family members have to sit in class the next day pretending nothing happened to them, are difficult to manage. Some students have to deal with sexual issues, due to the repression of friendship and relationship with the opposite gender imposed by their families, the government, and cultureTeenagers learn to harass the opposite sex instead of socializing.
All this is because schools must bear the burden of the police, Welfare Organizations, families, and society which do not work properly. A heavy burden unjustly placed on teachers shoulders whose personal and financial concerns are countless. Teachers’ salaries are so low that even Mullahs are reluctant to get involved in the Education System.
As a teacher, I believe that our educational basic defects, like all the other social problems, has only one solution. The solution is supporting the action and statement of the 14 political activists. A statement that Mr. Hashem Khastar, Mr. Sepehri, and Mr. Shahroudi, the imprisoned teachers have emphasized; regime change is the only solution.
Edited by Avideh Rafaëla Motmâenfar
Iranian refugee living in Cuba, with 10 years of teaching experience as an official teacher in Iran.
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