Having a chat with KZN Teachers about children, colleagues and life

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

As an industry filled with a kaleidoscope of golf shirts and capri pants, teachers, for the most part, are committed people, driving our children to be better, functional members of society. A job many choose to avoid, yet are full of opinion when on the subject. 

Nevertheless, and bearing in mind, these brave souls deal with the new generation of hyper-emotional, “woke” children. You know, the same group of terrifying overstimulated developing minds who find fault with anything we do or, worse, can’t hold attention for longer than a TikTok video—but I digress.

Therefore, to lighten the load, discussing points often not published, we spoke with various teachers, asking them a host of questions. This is what they had to say. 

When asked about the strangest things regarding today’s children, the dedicated team from Curro Mount Richmore Independent School in Saltrock pointed out hilarious facts about our mini-mes’. 

  • How confident they are, regardless of their skill and talent level.
  • The pants that boys wear, which is under their bum.
  • Their ambition to be the next TikTok star/social media.
  • Boys being more consumed by fashion than girls.
  • Children having trouble doing things themselves.
  • They don’t have social skills. This is due to the fact that they stare at screens all day.

Joining in, the committed St Dominics Newcastle teaching team had us in stitches. Tanya van Niekerk, one of the private school’s Primary school teachers, adds, “The strangest thing about young people today is the slang they use, and how they think their fashion is totally innovative. (We were also there when we were their age). I saw someone wearing tie-dye the other day and I felt like I was back in primary school.”

Vinesh Dhewlall, Afrikaans Educator for Grades 8 to 12 at St Dominics Newcastle, adds that today’s children depend on technology and Google in the strangest of ways. “They are so enslaved that they no longer can think out of the box. Practicality and creativity elude them, while the simple things in life are evaded.”

However, these career-driven people are often only seen as teachers, with people forgetting that they are living, breathing humans too. In light of this, the good-spirited teachers from Curro Mount Richmore point out that their crazy antics include:

  • Training their bladders to hold it for 8 hours straight. 
  • Drinking lots of wine.
  • Having a secret’ claim to shame’ corner with questionable excuses from parents.
  • Going to bed early (before 9 pm) and staying in tracksuits all weekend.

Additionally, one of the educators states something all of us can relate to from our days in school. “Being able to project your voice over long distances while jointly being able to bring someone to silence with just one look.” Continuing with a brilliant statement, “We should have our own special event in the Olympics with such superpowers.”

St Dominics Newcastle’s Tanya van Niekerk adds, “The craziest things that teachers like to get up to involves going to bed late, and spending a whole day without once saying, “Can you please mute/unmute your microphone/switch off your camera?” 

In good comedy, Tanya continues by saying, “Teachers also like to get really crazy by going to the bathroom without following a set schedule, snacking whenever they are hungry and having long moments of silence.”

Supplying more of a comical visual representation, Vinesh Dhewlall adds that sitting silently in an empty class, just gathering one’s thoughts while giving the impression that you are deep in meditation, is another crazy thing teachers get up to. 

Nursery School teacher at St Dominics Newcastle Alicia Walker confirms what every kid ever wondered. “When all the children have gone home, we get to jump on the jumping castle, and we get to toss the water balloons. We have just as much fun, if not more.”

However, there are times when their colleagues frustrate them. So instead of encouraging them into a no-rules street fight, we asked them to rather share these frustrations with Newcastillians.

The Curro Mount Richmore teachers get off to the races, highlighting the following:

  • They are always busy, but in a negative way.
  • When they do not discipline the children.
  • When they jam the printer. Want teachers in an instant bad mood? Jam or break their printer.
  • Talking behind people’s back but not having the guts to go to them.
  • The younger teachers thinking they are still in school by trying to fit into the Grade 12 group. 
  • Some teachers don’t like to share. “I can guarantee that I may have something that could help you with a problem in your class at some point in the future. We are a team working towards the same goal, The children.”

St Dominics Newcastle’s van Niekerk adds, “What frustrates me most about some teachers, is that they are not passionate about what they do. We get to work with young minds and that is something that needs to be taken very seriously. Teachers can literally make or break a learner and that is a great responsibility. I think many educators are in the profession for the wrong reason, and that is an injustice to the learners that they teach.”

In addition to this, Dhewlall states that some of them are unable to jump off their high horses and be part of the real learning and teaching environment. “Our end-product is a living being with feelings and emotions. This product (the child) is reliant on our versatility and ability to impart knowledge,” he stresses.

Lastly, asking our awesome group of teachers, as professionals, working in the education sector daily, if they could, which subject would they add to the curriculum to enhance a child’s knowledge base? To which Curro Mount Richmore teachers said: 

  • Doing your taxes, money management, writing a CV, how to open a bank account, job interview techniques, because parents don’t teach this to today’s children and many don’t have parents to teach them.
  • Conflict resolution.
  • Consumer Studies, it’s an important life skill that all children should learn.
  • Manners, today’s generation has no manners and need to be taught etiquette.
  • Basic life skills: How to change a tire, iron clothes, jump start a car, etc. Young people need to know how to do these things, and it should be taught to them in school.
  • Drama and Home Economics. Drama encourages children to build their confidence and step out of their comfort zone. Home Economics teaches and allows children to learn and practice cooking, nutrition and making/designing their own clothing.
  • Simple way of doing agriculture, and to be more aware of nature.

Dhewlall of St Dominics Newcastle agrees with many of these points, stating he would like to see life skills taught at school. “Our children need to possess a skill set that can help them cope with the challenges that they encounter. In many instances, children fall by the wayside due to the absence of coping mechanisms and discipline.”

Moreover, looking at it from an environmental perspective, “If I could add one subject to the school curriculum, it would be Sustainable Living. I would like learners to learn more about environmental issues and to do practical tasks that will lead to a more eco-friendly lifestyle,” states Van Niekerk. 

Walker adds she would like to see the children learn about being more street-smart, with the new class named either Savvy or Streetwise. “As children, they learn about so many things, so much academic information, but what about being street-smart? What about everyday life skills that they need?”

As a common talking point among adults, children have changed, technology has changed, and therefore, our understanding of what these dedicated people deal with on a daily basis also needs to change. 

For the most part, they are hardworking, love-filled people who take your children seriously. But there are times, like with this article, when we need to let them relax and share their unique worlds with us, offering us the opportunity to learn more about their reality. 

What are your thoughts? Share your views and messages in the comment section below. 

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