Education fundamentals

| 03/02/2011

Having written extensively on the failing public schools in America, I have come to recognize a strong, but often politically unpopular, correlation between discipline in the classroom and successful measurable outcomes. Orderly schools with strong principals who support their teachers, coupled with high expectations for all students, consistently produce superior, often times spectacular, results.

The design of the classrooms—accompanied by clever “catch phrases” such as “cells and bells”—is largely irrelevant. An impassioned teacher and an eager student sitting on a log can constitute an effective learning environment.

Likewise, there is little correlation between the amount spent on public education and measurable results. For example, in 2007, Washington, D.C, spent $15,511 to educate one student—the third highest per pupil expenditure in the United States. And yet the District of Columbia had the lowest student achievement performance in America. New York, which topped the nation in per pupil expenditures ($17,173) in 2007 had similar dismal results. Cayman is in the top tier of countries in the world in terms of per pupil expenditures.

Put another way, the relationship between financial inputs and cognitive outputs is virtually nonexistent. Building two new gold-plated high schools in Cayman at a cost of up to $150 million should give the Caymanian people no comfort whatsoever that our students will do one whit better in terms of academic achievement.

To examine more closely the uncomfortable concept that discipline is the key factor in academic success, I set out to identify and study the most disciplined high school in America, and I found it in the Marine Military Academy (MMA) in Harlingen, Texas.

In 1965, a small group of former United States Marines—most of them drill instructors—founded a preparatory school in Harlingen, close to the border of Mexico. The Marines were concerned that America was deteriorating badly in terms of education and social norms, including drug use, crime, gang behavior, and overall antisocial behavior. They reasoned that the discipline they learned and practiced in the Marine Corp could be adapted to a classroom setting to the benefit of young students and, by proxy, the country.

With the intent of writing a book, I enrolled as a “cadet” in MMA at age 46. Most of my fellow “cadets” entered MMA at age 14.

On Day One, like my classmates, I got my head shaved in the typical Marine tradition. I lived in the dorms with these students (tape recorders rolling) and struggled to keep up with demanding school work, taxing physical workouts, hours of homework, and, by “lights-out,” sheer exhaustion. The “design” of our classrooms was vintage shoebox: four walls, traditional desks and chairs, little else.

Most readers (and professional “academicians”) would be astonished at the transformations that take place at MMA.

Once the cadets say goodbye to their parents (mothers’ tears are shed in abundance) and walk “through the door,” their lives change forever. It turns out that former U.S. Marine drill instructors are not the least bit intimidated by teenagers with surly attitudes, unruly hair, or gangsta-style dress.

After students undergo one month of “basic training” (parents are prohibited from visiting their children during this period), the parents return to campus and most cannot believe they are interacting with the same youngsters they dropped off only four weeks earlier. It’s “Yes, Ma’am,” and “No Sir,” and “May I get the door for you, Mother?”

Most importantly, 95 percent (today’s figures) of graduating seniors go on to the college or university OF THEIR CHOICE. As you might expect, these schools include Harvard, Yale, Princeton, West Point, the Naval and Air Force Academies, and other fine institutions.

Is MMA an extreme example—yes. And is MMA the correct model for every student—no. But discipline, high expectations, and hard work are the essential ingredients for academic success.

As my friend George F. Will (syndicated columnist, Pulitzer Prize winner, and ABC News correspondent) once put it, it’s mainly a matter of “meat on the seat”: Students learn what they study in direct proportion to how long they study it.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A fascinating, but naive article from someone who clearly has never been an educator, and likely not a parent!

    For those of you who think that beating your child (or allowing the school to do this on your behalf) is the answer to your problems, then may i suggest a trip to the doctor forthwith to have yourself sterilised.

    Yes, there has to be discipline, both in schools and at home. However, that discipline comes from mutual respect, understanding and above all love. The first question any right minded parent should ask themselves if their child comes home from school stating they have been ‘disciplined’ is ‘What happened?’ followed quickly by examining what the educator did to both prevent the incident and deal with it afterwards.

    The honest and simple fact is that a good educator, who takes time to get to know their charges, and forms a bond of friendship and respect with them, will always bring the best from those students.

    Respect can never be beaten into a child, only fear! If you think your child respects you because you discipline them with an iron fist, then you are sorely and sadly a mistaken individual. Your child is likely the rebellious one who bullies and intimidates the other children.

    The discipline alluded to in Mr Legge’s article above stems from a system that has this form of discipline for one reason alone: At some point you are going to order those young men and women into harms way, and you do not want them to stop and ask themselves ‘what am i doing here?’

    That system is designed to break the individual down for the military to build them up into a soldier that will do as instructed. Hence the shaved heads, rigid routines, and above all the volume of work and menial tasks so the individual has no time to think for themselves.

    If you think that the ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’ thing is a sign of mutual respect and well behaved discipline, ask yourself this: How many of those inmates in American prisons will happily call you Sir or Ma’am just before shooting or stabbing you?

    Our children need to be nurtured and shown that work gets reward. That reward is the love, respect and admiration of their parents, educators and peers.

    As to Mr Legge’s suggested system of schooling, I say Not in my Name. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Whomever you are, I applaud you. Thank you for speaking on my behalf, with the eloquence that I lack.

    • David R. Legge says:

      I find your posting offensive and, frankly, ignorant.

      No one, certainly not me and certainly not the Marine Military Academy, advocates "beating" any child. At MMA, they have regulations in place that prohibit anyone from even TOUCHING a student—and those regulations are adhered to. To suggest otherwise borders on libel.

      To be clear, I, too, am against corporal punishment in any context in any classroom. Period.

      However, discipline, or even better, self discipline, is an important ingredient in success in any field—including education. The positive outcomes at MMA (95 percent of the graduating seniors being accepted into the college or university of their choice) reaffirm my position.

      You end your posting by saying, "not in my name."

      What does that phrase mean when you are so cowardly as to not even to admit to your own name?

      • Kung Fu Iguana says:

        You were doing quite well in your response until the last two paragraphs.  Calling someone cowardly for choosing not to post their identity online is intimidation and bullying, especially in a country where by reason of corruption there is no genuine right to free speech.  Accept their point and answer it, their identity is irrelevant.

        PS: Kung Fu Iguana is not my real name.

    • Hmmm says:

      I think you have misinterpreted and exaggerated Mr Legge’s position to the extreme.  I don’t believe he is advocating beating children in any shape or form or teaching in a fear regime.

      The slipper/cane never did me any harm at school, it simply made me remember a quick but unpleasant and painful experience the next time I planned on being naughty and taught me sufficient respect for the teachers and the school environment to knuckle down and work rather than act a fool and get the slipper/cane again.  I  have matured into a well-rounded, educated person with high morales, just as my parents did before me.  My parents were accustomed to being rapped on the knuckles hard with a ruler if they misbehaved in class.  They quickly got the message too.  Some of us are basing our comments regarding discipline in school from our own personal experiences so whether we are teachers or have children or not, is irrelevant in that context because we know from personal experience that it works.  Fact of the matter is, a stricter approach works when it comes to gaining respect.  

      The softly softly regime used in schools nowadays just pampers to kids and teaches them that there are no real consequences for misbehavior.  So there is nothing to stop them from doing it again.

      In that context, I am inclined to agree with Mr Legge that more discipline is required in schools.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Excellent article!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

     In some cases, children are dismissed as bad early in life and then ignored for the rest of their lives.  If we had an early intervention assessment of children, it would help because sometimes these children have problems that inhibit them from performing properly.  For instance, hearing or speech problems will get a toddler very frustrated so they will act out.

    Having separate rooms or partitions will help some children to focus better as some children are auditory and some are visual.  It is also helpful for children who learn at a faster pace or slower pace than most kids.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dear David,
    I could not agree with you more. I truly enjoyed this contribution from you.

    While I’m not a qualified teacher, I do end up making presentations in the school system and have found both student and teacher behavior on several occasions to be appalling. I wonder if most of the CNS readers realized the majority of students today are totally unfamiliar with the phrase “being able to hear a pin drop”. I’ve asked students and most have never heard of the phrase, not to mention understand what it means. I realized that school had changed since I was there and not necessarily for the best.

    Some teachers appear to be underpaid, overwhelmed by the number of students in their class, overworked, and living in fear of what the students and/or their parents will do to them (teachers) at the end of the day. Some however fall in the “I’m here for the beach or can’t hold another job” category and could care less about their students. Several I’ve encountered appear to take the easy way out, by teaching those students who are willing to listen and ignoring the rest just to keep the “peace”.

    Parents generally seem to spoil their children with expensive tech gadgets. Others neglect their children and unfortunately some outright abuse them. Parents today generally work too long to purchase overpriced material object for the irresponsible kids they are creating or in some sad cases use their children for criminal purposes. Very few pay attention.

    Bad parenting + overwhelmed, underpaid and/or unmotivated teachers = future inmates of Northward (if Northward has the room and the RCIP are smart enough to catch them).

    I graduated in the late 80’s and was educated in local private school without the comfort of a/c, soft chairs and computers etc. Our principal was considered the devil by most of us at the time and won the kiss the pig contest just about every year I can remember. Could our learning have benefited from better chairs, desks, lab equipment and a/c? Sure. It would have made it easier to concentrate and learn. Could we have benefited froma kinder principal? Perhaps. But know this, our top graduate that year is a medical doctor. A large portion of the students from that class have obtained a college degree. Not one member of our graduating class has ever been a resident of Northward prison to date.

    The one thing I’m certain of was this: If you screwed up, the principal knew and you PAID for it. For the most part our parents sided with the principal not the student. And when you went home you were punished again by your parents. I remember students being paddled on the butt and it killed no one. I remember learning the 10 commandments and the “Golden Rule” from the Bible and it upset no one.

    My conclusion is: parents need to be parents by setting a good example for their children to follow and pay attention to the behavior of their children. They need to make all attempts necessary to correct bad behavior ASAP! We should never be so “politically correct” when setting expectations/and moral standards that we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Common sense goes a long way.

    Today we have a total lack of parenting skills, students being pushed up to the next class before they are ready and a severe lack of attention and discipline in schools. We ALL have to do our part to fix the problem. Modern and aesthetically schools are nice if we can afford them but our parenting skills, what happens in schools and who we place in authority over our children is far more important. Let fix what is wrong with the “inside” of the school first such as behavior and literacy.

  5. Just Commentin' says:

    Thank you Mr. Legge for writing a very compelling and incisive viewpoint.

    I am in agreement with Carol Hay and those who strongly concur with the crux of Mr. Legge’s opinion: Positive outcomes depend much more on dedicated and effective educators, committed parents, suitably high expectations, and balanced but firm discipline, than on fancy over-priced buildings. Where effective discipline is lacking even the best students will fail to reach their potential. There is no argument here. No amount of political posturing or rationalising will negate the truth. Only a moron would disagree.

    I agree that schools can only do so much when parents fail to live up to their responsibility and instill discipline in their children. However, schools must rightly be expected to be places where respect for authority is taught and discipline is maintained. Schools are way too soft in the discipline department these days. And it shows in the end product they are turning out.

    In my early years parents expected "Yes, sir" and "Yes, ma’am" from me and my peers. Their mother and I expected such respect out of our children. Sadly many parents in this country frankly suck at instilling such respect these days. And many parents are pathetically poor at enforcing strict but fair discipline at home. These are symptoms of a sick society.

    Unless and until we admit that as a country we have done an abysmal job at raising the current younger generation and we are in trouble in this respect, we will stay on a path of increasing academic mediocrity and social deterioration. No amount of politricks and dollars spent on mere buildings will make any significant difference.

    Expectations are key. If you look at groups or areas in Asia with social and economic demographics comparable to the Cayman Islands, you will see that Asian public school students generally achieve a higher standard than their western counterparts. Why? Leading educational researchers are of the unified opinion that high expectations and social pressure to adapt and conform, and respect for authority and discipline, play a large part in this.

    A "must see" commentary is the documentary by Robert A. Compton entitled "2 Million Minutes". It should be required viewing for all educators, politicians and parents of students in this country. It would behoove our education department and parent-teacher groups to acquire and show this insightful movie.

    The fact that your viewpoint received such opposition is a troubling revelation of the attitudes prevalent in this country. More evidence of a sick society in denial.

  6. Yo Mama says:

    Legge is correct about money not being everything when it comes to education. If I could have only one, I’d choose a great teacher over a great classroom design every time. I believe our money would be better spent to upgrade our teachers. Far too many in Cayman are not bright enough, lack enthusiam, and don’t connect with their students. We should pay them more money and then demand much higher standards from them.

    Unfortunately, it appears Legge has fallen victim to the ridiculous feel-good notion that claims yelling at children and treating them like soldiers can turn them into wonderful human beings.

    While it may appeal to many frustrated adults to see a child getting yelled at, it’s not the best route to education. It doesn’t even work to straighten out “bad” kids at any impressive rate. Check the fail rate of the popular boot camp programs for juvenile delinquents in the US. Treating children like Spartan troops might feel right intuitively for the adults but it’s innefective nonsense. If anything works in these places and programs, it’s most likely the structure and attention given to the kids because that is what they are starved for. The threats and screaming are a gaudy distraction.

    The bottom line for the Cayman Islands is that we must provide more support for children and single mothers. Some European countries do that and have virtually no problems like the US and Cayman, for example.

    Nothing will change so long as Caymanian children are growing up with poor nutrition, no structure, not enough quality attention and inadequate preschooling.

    Conservatives like Legge will cringe in horror at the suggestion that government should do more for children but it makes more sense than pretending that treating 12 year-olds like Marines will solve the problem. Of course the responsibility should rest with the parents. But it’s foolish to declare that and then just leave it there. The reality is that some parents aren’t going to do the job. It’s up to us to help these children with crappy parents, even though they aren’t ours.

    In the end, it doesn’t matter if we have a billion-dollar school, teachers who are all former Marine drill instructors, or reinstitue corporal punishment in schools. Nothing but reaching them early will solve the crisis of rude high schoolers who are unintrested in learning.

    By the way, none of this is meant to be insulting or an attack on David Legge. He cares and he’s thinking. We should thank him for that.

  7. Lachlan MacTavish says:

     The subject of education in The Cayman Islands is very deep and complex. IMHO David was just trying to relate a story about one aspect, discipline. Some of the sore topics for Cayman’s public school education system are safety, discipline, respect for principals, administrators and teachers. The schools need to be safe for students and staff, respect not only from students but parents and politicians and even some civil servants. I don’t believe a lot of people will disagree that discipline and structure is sometimes difficult to achieve in the island environment. Discipline can be difficult when parents interfere unnecessarily on the students behalf or even politicians and Government employees get involved. Safe, disciplined, structured schools, with respect for staff will help to create a learning environment which could end up with better students and grades.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The practice of social promotion or moving students up to the next level without anyone caring whether they satisfactorily completed the work is your problem. It doesn’t matter if you are teaching in a Taj Mahal or a one room school. Good teachers and real standards of achievement are all you need. If the money spent on those high schools had been spent on good teachers you’d have seen more results. Problem is it’s easier to drop a bundle on buildings than it is to recruit and retain good teachers.

  9. Sad Sack says:

    This is a really beautiful story!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Good to see Mr Legge does not allow a good story to get in the way of the facts.

    I just visited MMA’s website-US$30,000 pa for enrollment fees, David went there when he was 46, maybe that was about 50 years ago, judging by the pictures on their website it doesn’t look anything like shoeboxes or our the curent delapidated state of high schools for that matter.

    Having attended government high school here I can say with certainty that we need new schools, why not build them to the highest of standards?

    • David R. Legge says:

      I concede that it’s been many years (not quite 50!) since I’ve been to the Marine Military Academy (MMA), but I, too, visited the website, and the campus and classrooms look pretty much the same to me—maybe updated a little but still functional, spotless (no graffiti at MMA), and basic.

      In any case, my central point remains unchanged (and so far unchallenged): Architecture and infrastructure do not contribute to academic achievement. If only it were that easy . . .

      You might be curious to know (I doubt it) that the first "Academy" was established by Plato in 387 BC. Aristotle and a few other distinguished alums attended. Not bad for a school where classes, or dialectics, were held not in the equivalent of Cayman’s half-built $150 million campuses—but in an olive grove.

      As to your point of "why not build [our new high schools] to the highest of standards," here’s why: We don’t have the money.

      • Anonymous says:

        I beg to differ David, we do have the money, we simply have failed to prioritise education which in my humble submission is a travesty. Instead of setting the foundations for a bright future for our children we have politicians squandering money on pet projects like the turtle farm that still bleed money, politicians that will never be held to account because of the ilk that coddles them so that they can get their turn at the trough.

        As for your bizarre observation that “Architecture and infrastructure do not contribute to academic achievement” I wonder if you could explain why the top ten high schools in America have endowments ranging between 40 and 854 million.

        Your odd rantings on Plato serve no purpose apart from highlighting an apparent desperate need to appear well versed in culture.

      • Anonymous says:

        The point must be made that an olive grove is a far more inspiring setting than George Hicks High School in its present state.  Architecture and infrastructure contribute to an overall aesthetic, and good design delivers space that is conducive to the purposes of learning.  Where space is configured only in one way (say, traditional classrooms), then learning can take place in a limited number of ways.  

        Another poster has illustrated the fact that different learners require different approaches.  I have no doubt that MMA produces, for its population, excellent results.  However, as you yourself point out, it is not the solution for every learner.  The schools being proposed by Fielding Nair do, at least, make an attempt to cater to a wide range of teaching and learning styles, and can be easily adapted in future years simply by changing the interior furnishings and fittings.

        Because the various learning communities are housed in different buildings, it would be easy enough to incorporate MMA style learning for those who would benefit from it.

        Your post has some merit, but in some ways it is an argument for, rather than against, the flexible architecture Fielding Nair have proposed.

        • David R. Legge says:

          I don’t disagree; I’m going to reach out to Mr. Nair, who seems like a most articulate and intelligent fellow, to see if he wants to expand further on his ideas in my publication (Grand Cayman Magazine). We could either debate, or, perhaps more positively, simply have a good back-and-forth conversation in print.

          From the limited amount I’ve read, I don’t think Mr. Nair and I are in agreement in our core beliefs, but I could be wrong (and I was off the island so I missed his Crosstalk conversation). Certainly I’m willing and open to being educated.

      • Troots says:

        Your man Mac claims we have a surplus, created no doubt (if it exists) by delaying vital projects such as the these schools. Don’t worry, no doubt we will spend all the "savings" and more on the impeding lawsuits. Fact is that education was neglected by successive Governments. Alden’s hands were tied by the failures of past Administrations, something had to be done. Now, I would have gone about it slightly differently but I am still able to applaud himfor prioritising it, finally.

  11. Proud Caymanian says:

    Students need strong discipline in schools and if this includes regular beatings and the occasional slap or shouting at that’s ok. Children don’t have rights and need to respect their parents and teachers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t you think it should be up to the parents to teach their children to have respect? If parents would do what they should at home, chances are that the children would go to school and respect their teachers and peers.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Ever the stalwart proxy, Mr Legge makes a good, if somewhat Victorian, and not particularly nuanced, point. Children respond strongly to structure, including fair and balanced discipline.

    Unfortunately it is a point that has pretty much been accepted wisdom in the Cayman Islands since education began. (I was under the impression he had been living here nearly that long.) The 150 million dollar schools after all were only a recent innovation that students have yet to enjoy.  Conditions are far from top of the line as we speak. Overcrowding has been endemic for around two decades and so has the strap for longer than that. A fairer question might be to ask where has it gotten us so far.

    In his understandable rush to share his knowledge on this much-debated subject with us, Mr Legge fails to describe the situation of his pet boot camp/prep school with regards to certain key factors widely demonstrated influence the outcome of education. These include the classroom sizes, teaching and learning practices, curriculum design (is a mix of subjects available, are extracurricular activities and volunteering mandatory), correlation between the socio-economic bracket and race of the children that it enrols and the teachers that employs etc. He also overlooks the internationally accepted fact that children’s learning performance improves when they spend more time in learning environments. 

    I think all those who claim that education is simply a matter of discipline, would be prepared to go to school with a pure heart, and a good will, every day in clothes that are too small, and scuffed shoes with holes that are too tight, knowing in every single unsupervised moment, some children are going to sneer because you are taking assisted reading classes, and others because you look "poorish"?

    Teacher might not be too happy either, because you didn’t finish your homework as noone was there to provide the support that a dyslexic student needs to work through the written word, or incentivise you to tackle a challenge that you have frequently found to be less rewarding in terms of the instant gratification that it provides, than riding your bike on the road with your friends, whose mother was also at work. Your mother after all works two jobs and has five children. Granny works three, and daddy just moved to Honduras to live with his new wife and their two kids. Your mother did get back from her job at midnight, but her new boyfriend was with her and they had a blazing row for three hours and spent the next three hours making up. So you had to sleep in the yard so they could have privacy, because the house you live in has two rooms. Then you had to get up at 6 to make sure you caught the bus.

    When teacher’s not happy, you think she speaks to you and looks at you a bit like your mother’s boyfriend speaks to the pitbull at home. This makes you upset. In your short life you have never really known anyone who deals well with that kind of challenge, so you get into still more trouble and by the time your mother gets home that night she has had an earful from the school and is also unhappy with you… 

    I ask again, in such circumstances, what must it cost to maintain that disciplined but submissive philosophy that Mr Legge calls for? (I won’t even touch on the question of whether discipline and submission produce the kind of groundbreaking innovators which it is frequently claimed in this forum can presently only be imported.) It is surely an exceptional child that maintain this attitude every hour of every day for a dozen years between the ages of 5-18. Rather than rushing to stigmatise children who lapse, perhaps we should all take a minute to consider, whether there is not indeed something to providing disadvantaged children with some kind of comprehensive, structured support.

    Certainly education in the Cayman Islands is never going to improve until the country as a whole faces the fact that, despite the attractions of claiming that all that is required for a successful education is strength of character, and despite having more nominal wealth than other countries, the poor here face the same socio-economic disadvantages as the working poor throughout the developed world. In other countries "academicians", perhaps better known as academics, have worked alongside policymakers to implement solutions with tangible outcomes. Reducing class-sizes, increasing children’s access to learning environments and resources, requiring an attitude of mutual respect between students, teachers, parents and the wider community– not just for individuals, but for cultures, increasing interaction between these same groups, regularly communicating with parents as to how they can improve their children’s learning outcomes are just some of the things that have been found to be as integral to a successful education as either boot-camp discipline or 150million dollar buildings.

    • Anonymous says:


       I was absolutely impressed with your visualization of what it is sometimes like for a child…I have been out of school for the better part of 30 years and I can STILL remember some of the hurtful taunts and teasing that was leveled at me by some uncaring classmates…yes, it really is tough to be a kid…and it’s even tougher to be a kid and be "Different"..  and YES, sometimes teachers advance this attitude of bullying by not nipping it in the bud, because YES they are human and YES, there are always going to be kids that they don’t take a liking to and just like everyone else they sometimes turn a blind eye to what some children do to other children…I think deep down, ALL children want to learn and get ahead and be accepted..That is the difficult part of all this…how do we ensure that kids who learn differently are treated with the respect and caring that "normal" kids get??

  13. Labour force says:

    Excellent article that goes straight to the root of the problem. The lack of discipline in our schools here is the primary problem. Allowing students to ‘rule’ and teachers to be the subdued servant has produced one heck of an unruly mess here in the Cayman Islands.  I cannot speak for the rest of the world.  We do not have to look far: Look at the schools that are producing the amazing results on this Island and see what they are doing differently.  It is mostly the church-oriented schools in Cayman that produce outstanding results and I think it is directly related to the discipline that is instilled.  Cayman Prep spent less on their new building block to get it completed and functional than the Govt spent on having their plans drawn up! Guess what, we’re still arguing and spending  money to make changes to the structure.  In the meantime, Cayman Prep have occupied their building and their students are preparing for external examinations!

    Cayman Islands Government need to think in less grandiose $$ amounts and learn from what is happening right here.

    Bells, cells, etc. really have nothing to do with the learning process.  Good teachers who are anxious to impart and students who are well-mannered, disciplined and anxious to learn is what will make all the difference.

    • Concerned Caymanian says:

      I agree.  My children attended Cayman Prep School, and they and their many classmates have gone on to further study abroad and to lead very useful lives.  It is not just the discipline at the school or even the very good teachers who care for their students, but also the highly involved parents who have taught their children from a young age to have respect for others, to be honest, to do community service, and other values.  These and other values are re-inforced at the school.

  14. DD says:

    You hit the nail on the head, Mr. Legge.
    Having high expectations is key. The practices of rewarding students for simply turning up and accepting that their unruly behaviour is the norm and therefore acceptable are not working. It is time to try something else.

  15. Anonymous says:

    While your comment is interesting, I am not sure I understand the relevance. Discpline and respect needs to be taught at home from a young age on. We can’t let it slide and then expect a school to fix it all. Judging by what you wrote (the long hair gangsta types and the amazing transformation), it seems to me that the parents didn’t do at home what needed to be done from day 1. We all know that as a society we have lost control over our children a long time ago so this is old news. Anyone with a bit of common sense will realize that money doesn’t equal positive outcome, just like money can not buy one “class”. Was it a good idea to start 3 new schools at the same time? No. Could the school in Frank Sound have been scaled down? Probably. But if I have a choice between a school that follows a new (and seemingly proven) teaching concept and something that has been done over and over again but not shown any improved results, I would make a leap of faith and try something new. By no stretch of imagination however does this mean that we all can sit back and just watch from the sidelines and expect that a “new building and concept” will fix it all. Everyone still needs to do their part.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The shift in students rights and making corporal punishment illegal has seriously hampered education in my opinion.

    When I was going to school we knew who was in charge and who made the rules. The paddle was used when a student would not follow instructions.

    The parents that run to bad mouth and disrespect the teachers undermine the education process and hurt their children in the long run.

    The need for a strong school administration to support the teachers in dealing with unruly students and irate parents is critical to an education system that effectively teaches young people.

    I recently met my high school principal and in a casual conversation he said, "You can call me Bill." I replied, "In my mind you will always be Mr Plimpton." That is the respect I felt toward him after 35 years.

    • Carol Hay says:

      I not always agree with David Legge but this time round I concur absolutely.
      The problem in most schools, be they public or private,is the unruly behavior and attitude of the students and thier parents. Or as the writer above nailed it, “The need for a strong school administration to support the teachers in dealing with unruly students and irate parents is critical to an education system that effectively teaches young people.” Yet, we continue to molly coddle students in the school system for fear of reprisal. If a student breaks the rules nowadays that is called freedom of expression and all that hogwash.

      If children are not taught these basic principles: right from wrong, obey rules whether they agree with them or not and respect for their elders, the whole school system crumbles. Ask any old-timer what discipline was like in their day and you’ll see the vast differences.