Teacher lands in hot water with response to unruly student

Once upon a time if you were a student caught doing the wrong thing in class it usually ended with

Once upon a time if you were a student caught doing the wrong thing in class it usually ended with you making a trip to the principal’s office and a swift smack across the hands or butt with a cane.

Not anymore.

Peter Charles Rowlingson from Melville High School in New Zealand has been found guilty of serious misconduct towards a student by the NZ Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal and ordered to pay a fine of almost $3,500.

The incident in question happened in 2015, when the student was caught throwing potentially dangerous metal washers in Rowlingson’s class. It happened after another student had been verbally disciplined by the teacher for the exact same action only moments before.

Concerned about the safety of his students, Rowlingson felt the only way to see an end to such behaviour was a swift kick up the butt to the second offending student, which was described Rowlingson as making “contact with Student A’s bottom with the inside of his boot” in a statement.

Using physical contact to punish or correct a student’s behaviour has been banned in NZ for decades, so it’s hardly surprising the teacher was found guilty of physical abuse and serious misconduct.

But the decision by the tribunal has had a mixed response.

While some say Rowlingson was lucky not to have been dismissed from his position at the school, citing that kids are renowned for challenging teachers’ authority and it was the teacher’s responsibility to look at discipline in the classroom, others have said the action was appropriate.

“If a kid’s throwing washers around he’s not studying, he’s not a student,” former teacher Joe Bennett told Stuff.co.nz.

“Let’s say a bit of metal had caught some kid in the eye. What happens to the teacher then?

“I’m not calling for wholesale thumping of children or whatever. Let’s put it in very simple playground terms: the boy started it. And the boy was told to stop and the boy opted to continue.”

What do you think about this situation — was the teacher right in his response to the student’s unruly behaviour, or did he overstep the market in his duty of care?

  1. The poor man! Yes, if the metal had hit a child in the eye the teacher would have been responsible and no doubt censured over that. He can’t kick the kid up the bum, unfortunately, though the rotten little tick deserved it. It is doubtful whether the parents of the kid would have done anything about his behaviour, and the education department doesn’t seem to care in most countries. I feel very sorry for teachers who seem to be expected to put up with any type of behaviour that the kids want to dish out and the school administration and education department hang them out to dry. I don’t condone beatings, but a visit to the principal’s office in the “olden” days with one swat on the bum with the cane would likely have solved the problem once and for all.

  2. I believe discipline starts in the home, and where there is none as that is the case nowadays,
    kids think they can misbehave anywhere they choose including in the classroom. I feel sorry
    for the teacher. Bring back discipline into schools and the cane and see how soon kids will
    learn to behave.

    • Joy Anne Bourke  

      I agree Corinne, this child has no discipline at home and a lot don’t these days and think they can do what they want anywhere. This is wrong and I agree the cane should be brought back as it did no harm to us when we went to school. At least we had respect for our elders.

    • Susan Bell  

      Really? you believe in using violence to solve a problem. Violence is never ever acceptable. Many students experience ongoing violence in their home so using violence on them will have no effect except they will never have respect for a teacher that uses violence. And yes I taught for years in an area of great poverty, a senior boys school where a lot of the boys came to school starving, never having breakfast and not having lunch. Some were responsible for looking after their younger siblings, one lovely boy slept in the schools sports grounds because of the violence in his home. Quite frankly if you use violence on a child you should be punished in the same way and suffer public shaming.

  3. earn it  

    So the teacher was disciplined. What discipline was allocated to the child?What was the consequence for his action? Sick outcome if no discipline taken.

    • Joy Anne Bourke  

      Yes how true. The teacher is in charge of his class and he gets disciplined. The child gets let off, WHY, he did the wrong thing after being asked not to. The teacher should have the right to discipline his students. When the child wins he goes around telling everyone and laughs at the teacher, and you wonder why people don’t want to teach anymore.

  4. Terri Rice  

    Nasty little brat. If that child’s ways aren’t curbed whilst he is still young enough to learn appropriate behaviour he will grow into yet another inmate of a prison system .
    Why haven’t the parents stepped in to discipline their ” little darling ” ?
    Meanwhile this poor teacher seems to be the only one who has received any disciplinary action.
    There’s no hope for any of us in the future when all this ” Goodey- Goodey ” attitude is allowed to continue. All the new generations are being brought ( dragged ) up with an attitude of anything goes & you can get away with any behaviour – the little darlings must be allowed to express themselves to enable their development . Personally I would like to express myself with a swift sharp slap across their backsides to curb their exuberance & bring them back into line.

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