Total Chaos


Different Point of View

Muhammad Naeem | Contributor

Animals! Pure and simple. That is the only word that I can use to describe the students that I came across at a local, not so prestigious middle school here in Hemet. Any other words that I am thinking of using, cannot be printed in this space. My own children went to the same middle school, so when I took the assignment to be a substitute teacher—sorry, glorified babysitter—there, I had a special sense of pride in taking the assignment. Previously, my experience was that of a parent, but now I was going to see the life from a teacher’s perspective, and see the students in a classroom setting. I was going to have a front seat to our educational system.

It was a total chaos. My first day was to assist a student-teacher, who was learning to be a teacher while juggling her life as a young, new parent. It was meant to be an introduction to the students and to the routine of the class, so I would be suitably prepared to do it all by myself the next day. Oh. My. God! I have never seen such misbehaved children in my entire life. I witnessed utter lack of respect for any authority figure, a complete disdain for any kind of learning, and an undeniable contempt for any sort of discipline. The student-teacher tried her best to control them, to keep them sitting in their seats, to get them to pay attention to her lessons, to get them to do any of the assigned tasks, like warm up exercises and worksheets that needed to be completed, but the students did not want to follow any of her instructions. Keeping quiet was a challenge. Their voices were louder than those of the teacher, and nothing—and I mean NOTHING—that she and I tried to keep them calm, worked. Period after period, the same scenario played out. By the end of the day, she was on the verge of tears.

I had hoped to do better the next day. It was an uphill battle. I couldn’t even take the roll properly, because their noise was louder than my voice. I tried everything to get them to at least give me a chance to read out the names. Nothing doing. Same students were in two consecutive periods. After the first period, I had to go to each one and ask their names so I could complete the roll call. I passed their worksheets to be completed before the end of the period. Most of them put the sheets away and got busy on their computers or cell phones. I saw them playing video games. I saw some compiling song lists. I saw some doing other strange things that I thought the school would at least block them from accessing. Some were shooting videos to upload to their social media accounts. They were writing messages on blank paper and holding them up for selfies. One group was going around pulling chairs from under unsuspecting students and filming it, again, to upload to their accounts. At that time, I had no choice but to call the front office and ask them to send security. Worksheets were blank. I couldn’t even get them to at least write their names on the papers. Some had made paper planes out of the works sheets and were having a flying race.

There were some students, mind you, who tried. But the hooligans wouldn’t let them even try to do some work. They kept stealing their papers, their pencils, other personal belongings, and kept throwing erasers at them. I desperately tried to stop them, but most of them wouldn’t even listen. One kid was going around and rubbing cream on other students’ faces. I had to call security again and send four of them away. They were back the next period, and back to their shenanigans. At the end of my day, I was also on the verge of tears. A grown man, an experienced elderly man, was ready to cry because he failed miserably to even get the students to pay attention to the simplest of
instructions. Here is the worst part, most of those horrible kids were girls. I always believed that the boys are a bigger problem. I was wrong.

I asked the office manager to help me understand the chaos. She said that ever since these kids returned from COVID lockdowns, they had become unbearable. I asked her as to how I could stop them from using their cell phones during class. She said that they couldn’t do anything because cell phones are the property of their parents and many parents have threatened to sue them if they take the cell phones away. Some of the students were ordering pizza towards the end of the day. I guess they must have some afterschool activities planned. As I walked away from the school at the end of the day, I saw police cars in the parking lot and officers, along with the school security, were chasing students, who were basically trying to show them who’s the boss.

This school is not in a ghetto, like we see in the movies. This school is here, in Hemet; a nice, decent suburban city, with mostly nice, decent families. But the kids were not nice, and they were definitely not decent. Horrible creatures, with no manners whatsoever, behaving like animals; although, now that I think of it, calling them animals is really insulting the animals. Animals at least follow a chain of command, and respect their leaders. Animals have much better discipline. Animals actually learn from one another and try to become better. In the two days that I spent in that school, zero amount of knowledge passed to the students. That’s because they were not there to learn. I came away feeling exhausted and depressed. I just hope that some parents would pay at least a tiny amount of attention and intervene. Otherwise, this chaos would only get worse with each passing semester.

• DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various author’s articles on this Opinion piece or elsewhere online or in the newspaper where we have articles with the header “COLUMN/EDITORIAL & OPINION” do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints or official policies of the Publisher, Editor, Reporters or anybody else in the Staff of the Hemet and San Jacinto Chronicle Newspaper.

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