Are We a Bully?

MAy 2nd is the National Education day here In Indonesia. And the theme for this year is Character building.


What got me to write this are two things; 1 was I happened to see a beautiful video made by a group of young creative boys in Japan, courtesy of a good friend of mine about a boy who was bullied. The end of the video really touches me. And 2, I just saw a status of one of my teacher friends about some students she’s teaching.


As teachers we spend our time teaching many things to our students. One of it might be how to appreciate. I know that bullying is never accepted everywhere. We teach our students not to hurt their friends, say the nice things and act kindly.


But have we ever considered that we, teachers might be one of the bullies ourselves? Like I said, I saw this status by someone who complained about the student she’s teaching. It almost feels like she blamed the student for not achieving and understanding well. And suddenly it struck me that I saw many of that behavior from time to time in my experiences. Once I saw a teacher calling names to the students (trust me, it wasn’t a nice one either) . Oh, and I can recall that I have teachers in my school time too who did more than just calling names, but some physical punishment too. Sure those were meant to teen learner but still….


Well, I used to believe that those thing we’ve known as punishment could help us grow as a better student and hopefully a better person as we grow up. But recently, I started to believe that what we, teachers do in the name of education could be labeled as bullying activity too! Calling names, giving physical punishment, looking down at your students and all those things are enough to put a kid down for the rest of his life.


I had this experience teaching a high school student who was very poor in English. I remember we called him ‘flat tongue’ cause he could never pronounce every word correctly. He couldn’t even say “doesn’t” or “aren’t” well. But guess what? He got a scholarship in Singapore after winning a science fair! When I told my principal, she was happy and what she said echoed in me. She said that every child is unique and bright in his or her own way.


Suddenly I saw things differently. I began to see that every of my students has their own talent. So some of them maybe lack in English, but that may be because it isn’t their thing! Just like myself and chemistry for example. I sure suck in it! Lol. That point, I’ve never taken any of my students for granted anymore. So what if they can’t speak English as well as I expect them to be. What matters is the fact that they are still coming to learn with high passion! Then I have this rule to never call any of my student (public or privately) : Stupid! I’ve never even said “you’re wrong” when they give me the incorrect answer as I never want to discourage them.

Those thought goes on when I switch gear and becoming involved in early education. And I added 2 words to my Never-to-say list: Ugly and Naughty!


Okay, but this writing isn’t about me. It’s just that I saw many people who are supposed to be educators looking down at their own students. Or worse thinking that it’s the parents’ fault that the students can’t understand the lesson very well. Always the students fault and not the teachers’ fault. If that was the case, wouldn’t it make us a bully too?

And during my time teaching I notice why some teachers are more favorite than the others. Most students fear mean teachers, and ignorant ones. Why? Mean teachers attack them with strong words that sometimes hurt them. And ignorant teachers make them feel inadequate as a person. So, Teachers could be a bully too after all. Whether we’ve noticed it or not.


This may come as a shock to many but I believe that why some students becoming a bully because we have become their example too. How many of you teachers get angry when your students cannot answer your question? How many of us shout  “wrong” when our students come out with an answer we don’t wish to hear?

I know and believe that all we want is for our students to understand the lesson, to get the knowledge, to provide them with all the equipment needed for their journeys in life. But we are also human, and in our weakness as one, we sometimes fail to see that we too can be the factor why our students fear the lesson. We can be the bully that makes them frightened to go to school.


I’m not writing this to oppose anyon
e, I believe Teachers are noble. I am just reminding that sometimes we can lose our perspective too in our pursuit of educating. And I do hope that after reading it, we all would take time and reflect at how we treat our students. And hopefully we will try to be careful on how we present ourselves in front of the classroom. And becoming aware of our role as people who are taking part in developing their future.


Anyway, Here’s to Education in Indonesia! And Teachers…….. You rock!


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