Saturday, April 13, 2013

Berkeras Memutus Arus

// reposted for posterity, from

"Pak, kenapa Pak Guru tidak pernah bapukul, Pak?" tanya Rahma tadi malam.

Saya berpikir sejenak.

"Kamu suka kalau dipukul?" tanyaku balik.

"Tidak, Pak," jawab Rahma. "Tapi kenapa Pak Guru tidak pernah bapukul yang nakal macam Mamat?"


And honestly I was stumped. I know that it's wrong, but to point out exactly why it's wrong, I'm out of my depths. If pressed, I can recite a stock argument or two why I am not an ardent believer of corporal punishment. But convincing a rational, knowledgeable individual acting as a parliamentary debate adjudicator is worlds apart from giving a sense of understanding to a young mind why an idea is wrong. Especially if violence is casual for her.

I stumbled for words, while not three feet away Mamat continued his playful roughhousing with Yoga and Pai, meaking my previous effort to tidy up my house vain. As he always does even in classroom during lessons.

I wish I'd have another chance to explain my reasons to Rahma. I wish even harder that I have a good answer ready.

Earlier this Monday morning, all of our teachers were present at school. Conversations sparked up, and one of the teachers claimed to the success of strict actions and distance between teachers and students to make his earlier pupils, well, succeed. I did not ask him how exactly did they succeed. I know I'm a bit prejudiced this way.

Much earlier, Ika asked me how to make me angry. Answering that I'm not really sure if I've ever harbored a burning anger--though for sure I've been frustrated, e.g. at present time--she pressed me how would I express myself angry. Those of you who know me well may now chuckle.

The answer I gave her was something noncomittal before continuing that for some people, I know I'm physically superior to them that any attempt at a violent recourse will be heavily disproportionate for them. Her and my pupils included in this category. I mean, you just have to look at their slender arms that could so easily be broken or dislocated by careless adult hands.

For those excepted from that category, I'm not powerful enough to overpower them that any attempt at genuine physical retaliation will only leave me emasculated and embarrassed.

Those are perhaps personal reasons enough not to do that. That, and family tradition, I suppose.

Though I suppose this now leaves me with an unanswered question of what to do with violent students.

Eko is a sixth-grader who've brought me to my wit's end. Last week, I logged two notes about him:

"Eko bikin masalah dua hari ini. Hari Rabu (27/3) dia di pagi hari menonjok dada Apri hingga dia meringkuk menangis kesakitan. Tanpa alasan jelas. Hari ini (28/3) kata anak-anak dia banting kepala Andrian ke tembok hingga Andrian menangis kesakitan juga. Tanpa alasan jelas pula. Honestly this kid tests me severely."

Bear in mind that: a. Apri is his younger brother, and b. both Apri and Andrian are big compared to the other fourth-graders. Not to mention the fact that usually Apri is the source of complain from his classmates for roughhousing!

Even the book offers little by way of ideas. We have a book titled "Penanganan Kekerasan di Sekolah" but the activities there would be of little use to handle Eko. How would you ask him to write the concept of an ideal, violence-free school if he knows very little how to write?

Patrick Rothfuss wrote in The Name of the Wind by quoting Teccam's Theophany: "there are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man." I bear the word gentle in my surname, and I just hope that my students will one day be wise enough to fear all three.

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