Spanking kids is often all in the mind

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By Chris Moerdyk

We seem to be hearing a lot these days about laws to stop parents spanking their kids and other laws preventing advertising that could possibly lead children to do dangerous things like jump off buildings and get fat by eating junk food.

But, I have yet to hear anyone suggesting that we should teach our children about life.

But, like many other life skills, such as dealing with bank managers and preventing plumbers from helping themselves to your life savings by the simple extraction of a foreign object from a U-Bend, schools and parents don’t teach kids about things like teamwork and partnerships.

In fact, they just confuse the daylights out of them.

Picture the scene: There’s little Kobus sitting in grade five and battling with a spelling test. No problem, he just leans over to have a look at what Sipho is doing.

Their teacher comes screaming across the classroom like a banshee, yelling at Kobus to stop his dirty low-down cheating and to do his test by himself.

Three hours later they are on the soccer field and there’s little Kobus flying down the wing with the ball and Sipho at centre forward pleading with him to pass. Kobus decides to go it alone and cuts in towards the goal. He falls over his feet, loses the ball and the opposition scores.

Then, the same teacher who blitzed him only hours earlier for trying to team up with Sipho on the spelling test, chews his ear off for going it alone when he should have passed the ball to Sipho.

By nightfall poor little Kobus is so confused he wets his bed and declares jihad on all teachers. He is just one of many kids who gets these mental spankings.

It all reminds him of his fifth birthday party when he and eight of his buddies were persuaded by the clown his mom hired to play musical chairs. Nine of them started with only eight chairs and one by one they were eliminated and the number of chairs reduced. Fat Louis had won that game and poor little Kobus couldn’t understand the point. All nine of them were supposed to be having fun at his party, he thought. And all that game did was make eight of them very unhappy while that smug little bastard, Louis, was the only one with a smile on his face.

Surely, thought Kobus, it would have been a lot more fun if there had only been one chair and the game was to see how many kids could all get onto it at the same time? Wasn’t that the teamwork adults kept going on about?

So, it is no surprise that kids leave school with a completely warped idea of partnerships and teamwork. They’re taught about the principle but not about the side effects.

Like competition. Kids are told that this is something in business that brings out the best in products.

But, they’re not taught that competition also brings out the worst in people. No one ever seems to explain the difference between competition and being competitive.

There is no doubt that when the children of today leave school and go to university or start out on their careers, they are going to be continuously reminded by lecturers and managers that life is all about pulling together. About teamwork.

I think that all children who intend going into the corporate world one day should spend at least three months on the front lines in Afghanistan to (a) understand the principle of partnerships and teamwork and (b) to get some idea of how hard it is to extract money from  a customer without the benefit of an attack helicopter.

– Follow Chris on Twitter.


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