Are our teachers overworked?

 

NTUC First Campus has confirmed that the child’s injury to his leg was sustained by mishandling by his teacher.

In their press statement, Mr. Chan Tee Seng, CEO of First Campus remarks that he was “disturbed and saddened” by the events and that he was “truly sorry” for what has happened. The teacher is now placed on immediate suspension and her fate will depend on police investigations.

Responding to online allegations that First Campus only shared the CCTV footage on police demand, Chan shared that there was no intention to withhold the videos from parents. CCTV was installed for precisely these situations and the organisation had intended for a full investigation to be completed first before sharing the video with parents. However, the parents filed a report before investigations were over and the police had made a specific request for First Campus to share the footage.

First Campus made apologies, offered assistance and setup a distress hotline. There was full transparency and Chan assured the parents that as custodians of trust, they would co-operate with the police and withhold no disciplinary action on the teacher.

In the heat of this fiasco, crosshairs of the online audience are trained viciously on the teacher. “Why did she hit the child?”, “Why could she not have been more patient?”, “Did she have a criminal record?”.

It was a most unfortunate incident. It would be difficult, but let’s take another perspective of this.

Have you managed a child before? Speak with any parent and she will tell you taking care of even one child is no easy feat. They need attention. They have moods. They laugh heartily one minute and wail bloody torture the next. They can’t communicate their needs well. At such a young age, they feed off energy – your energy.

The teacher of this pre-school manages up to 8 children at one go. They have to round them up for classes, settle fights and quibbles, manage naughty children, feed them, bring them to the toilet, clean their waste, teach them life lessons, play with them. And it would be juvenile to think that they’ll co-operate with you while you do all this.

The childcare teacher who allegedly dragged a three-year-old boy across the floor and caused him to fracture his shin has 16 years of experience in the preschool sector. If she had any criminal intention, or was mentally unstable to start with, she wouldn’t have successfully completed such a long service.

I spoke with Jennifer Seah, 34, an ex-MOE teacher, to ask more about what it was like to manage large classrooms. “I have had complaints from parents in the past for being too fierce. I have had parents who are lawyers that come to school and throw their weight around, then the schools will come and pressure us.” You couldn’t be too strict, you couldn’t set work that was too difficult, you couldn’t set work that was too easy. The stress was immense. The pressure of getting a bad review, inability to promote or even terminated was high.

“I couldn’t take the stress of having to keep up with unreasonable demands coming from both parents and then the school, so I left” sighed Seah.

“To be honest, I think if I stayed on in the teaching service, I could have been the one appearing on newspapers instead” she said with an uneasy laugh.

As for First Campus – I think there is little reason for alarm. The school takes care of over 10k children at a hundred centres. They have been operating for over 35 years, employ over 1500 teachers. As a matter of fact, the parents of the injured boy will be continuing use of My First Skool, although they did ask for him to be transferred to another branch.

 

PS: As I am writing this, I have a 7 year old boy in my room. He’s playing noisily with himself, throwing toys around, talking loudly and he’s now crawling under furniture. Kids… gotta love them :)

 

PPS: I just stepped on one of his toys and hurt my foot.

 

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About the author

Benjamin Chiang

Benjamin Chiang is an enthusiast of good advertising, deep thinking, labour issues and chocolate. He writes also at www.rangosteen.com and occasionally on Yahoo!

The views expressed are his own.

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1 Comment

  • What the teacher has done is not something you can brush off with a pen.

    Serving jail time is like allowing her reflect the harm she has done.

    You do not slam or break a child’s leg because he misbehave.

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