I wrote the below poem for the school’s zonal highly competitive Music Dance and Drama (MDD) Festival – perhaps it is as highly contested as the Olympic Games but at a school level. The poem is one of eight categories, with traditional dance certainly being the highlight! Most school’s buy their poem and then the children learn it, usually reciting in chorus fashion. I went along – amazing experience! We were sure we were going to get first or second overall but ended up fourth, teachers’ response: money changed hands overnight. The theme was non-violence, malaria free schools and effective learning – all items had to ecapsulate that theme. Ironically, during poem practise children were threatened to be beaten if they didn’t perform well – even more ironic when you read the words…
The Innocent Child
By Jody Unterrheiner
Violence in schools is like a dart,
That cuts right through to the heart
When will teachers come to their senses
That corporal punishment builds many fences:
A fence keeping out confidence
A fence keeping in shyness
A fence keeping out happiness
A fence keeping in sadness
A fence keeping out friends
A fence keeping in loneliness
A fence keeping out effective learning.
Corporal punishment can be physical:
Words which may:
or scare us
Let’s knock down the fence
And show some common sense
For this corporal punishment comes with one main excuse
But this does not mean we accept this form of abuse
Teachers, parents you may
often hear them say:
African children hear best when they are beaten.
Beaten? The only thing you may do to us is weaken:
Weaken our performance
Weaken our attitude
Weaken our independence
Weaken our creativity
Weaken our learning environment
Their ears are on their buttocks
Teachers, the door to improvement knocks.
Step through the door and transform our school,
It is not I who can change, you hold the tool.
Some tools, however, we have been given.
And we are no longer held captive in a prison.
One tool you have given us, which we are truly thankful,
Is advice on our health and how to be careful.
We know about malaria and the danger it brings.
And how at night we can avoid mosquito stings.
We are taught to recognise what could be a symptom
And offered treatment so we are no longer a victim.
We learn for protection to sleep under a net
But with our little savings, we cannot afford yet
We dream one day for a malaria free land
But that at the moment is out of our hand
Teachers, however, have much in their control
Education and learning environment. Now what is your role?
Give us positive discipline
Give us a voice
Give us independence
Give us life skills
Give us a chance
Let us work together for our future to be better
Transform and improve our lives, and we will be your debtor
Show us what effective learning really means.
And discipline that is positive, not demeans
Help us to be:
the leaders of the future
Let’s knock down the fences
And build up other defences
We don’t listen here (point to buttocks)
This (point to ear) is our ear
What a powerful and moving poem xxxxxxxxxxxxx Hoe you are both well xxx