Sharon Philogene
Sharon Philogene

Let me cut to the chase, parents are a child's first teachers and much of what children display when away from home is often what was taught or modelled in word or deed at home. I love movies, well, when I made the time to indulge in movies, they provided a bit of relaxation and instruction. When I teach Literature, I often point my students to the reality of the stories that leap from the pages of the novels or anthologies that are assigned for the class, and movies are based on stories, so they are instructive if one can look beyond the dazzle that technology has brought to cinematography. I spent last week Friday evening viewing three short action films. It was obvious that the cinematographer of each film was a fledgling in the field as he/she was unable to capture many aspects of the fights being filmed. What was obvious though in each fight was the attire of the fighters. Each fighter wore the uniform of a high school in Roseau. Now, I do not always catch the news, so I might have missed the announcement of the interschools boxing matches but based on experience, I have my doubts that such boxing matches would take place in the venues these did. The videos of these fights evoked the memory of the gall rising in my stomach when but about two months ago on "Universal Children's Day", the 4H Club at my school celebrated the day under the theme "Boys will be Boys".

And so, our boys proudly wore their "Boys will be Boys" pins and while I am always supportive of such positive activities, 'Boys will be Boys' kept gnawing at me for it conjured up all sorts of negative stereotypical situations. The question running through my head, "what are we really celebrating?" ... since "boys will be boys" has been the default setting, the excuse to explain away much of the negative behaviour of boys. After I had viewed the short films a few times, I pondered whether this behaviour would also be dismissed as "boys being boys' by much of society; thus, engendering irresponsibility, ill-discipline, and disrespect in our boys.

For those of you who would want to take me to task for trying to soften the edges of our boys, I do understand your fears. However, I teach at an all-boys' school and I see first-hand 'boys being boys' and I know that but for reigning in many of them, many of you with daughters would not want them (in local parlance) in front your doors. Every day I walk or drive along Independence Street, gangs of young men in high school uniforms can be seen loafing outside the Lotteries Commission office, outside Phone Shack, and on Cork Street outside Perky's Pizza. These young men appear to have no sense of responsibility for self growth or self development. It also appears that parent expectation must be very low or non-existent because there is very little that a young man can achieve academically if much of his time after school is spent on street corners, but it is evident that these young men are accountable to no one.

The popular saying "an idle mind is the devil's playground" aptly describes the action films resulting from young men idling their time away. The ill-discipline evident in these films suggests that there is a need for intervention at home, school, and the community level. Young men have always engaged in fights, but the number and frequency of student fights today seem to suggest that discipline is a far-fetched idea for many children/students.

Ill discipline breeds disrespect. Disrespect for self and others. When a young man in school uniform makes a conscious decision to fight even the representative of the law who has come to intervene in a fight, he has lost all sense of reason and self respect is at an all time low. The police who intervened may have been surprised, I wasn't. I am a teacher; I am in the kitchen; I feel the heat!

Young men must understand that time wasted can never be regained and we as community cannot continue to turn a blind eye while mouthing the words 'Boys will be Boys". We are all responsible for the wholistic development of our children, and the many who have been "entertained" by the videos being circulated of the many student fights have hopefully been instructed that we have our work cut out for us. We do what we can as teachers at schools, but much more need to be done at home- for parents are a child's first teachers.