“The younger generation has no manners. They do not know how to respect people. They are very unkind…….”
Over the past few years, I have heard these comments coming from the older generation. I was fortunate enough to witness a few situations in which, these comments did not apply to young children. The rainy season has been wreaking havoc with the classes at night, but some students still attend the classes despite having to get drenched in the rain.
One night, the classroom floor got dirty and muddy as a result of the rain. It was a cold and gloomy day. At the end of the class, four girls walked up to me and said, “Teacher, the classroom is dirty, we will help you clean it.” All four are below 12; the age when kids just want to play and run around. I was moved by their sense of responsibility. So, I announced to the class that we will have a small gotong-royong before we say goodbye.
All of them were excited and willing to help. The older kids were told to move and stack up the chairs, while the younger ones helped to put away books and learning materials and helped pick up rubbish from the floor. The four girls, who had approached me earlier, came back with mops and brooms to clean the floor. It took us only 15 minutes to clean the floor and tidy up the place. Once the other kids had left, these four girls told me that they have been wanting to help me clean the classroom, but they were hesitating to ask, and they did not want me to go back home late at night. Four young girls and a class of small kids gave me hope that kindness is still around here.
Ps: Some of the boys were told not to walk when the others were sweeping, so they decided to sit on their thrones.
Another incident that made me realise that children are filled with kindness, was Andrew’s last day in one of the classes. Andrew volunteered with us for nearly 3 months as a Volunteer Teacher, and these kids had planned a farewell party for him, all on their own. With little chocolate buns arranged around toys and a packet of orange juice, they made him cut the ‘cake’ while they said goodbye.
They went on to fill the whiteboard with farewell messages, most of them saying how much they were going to miss him and thanking him for teaching them. It did not end there, they dedicated songs and even danced for him. Another thing I noticed was, most of them could memorise whole songs and sing it without looking at the lyrics. This was a class that was labelled difficult, weak, naughty and so on by the teachers, but what I saw was kind, talented and loving kids, who were not given an adequate platform to display their talent.
Through these incidents, I have come to realise, the ‘younger generation’ is not unkind. They need to be given the opportunity and guidance to show it. It is our responsibility as adults, to lead by example because that is what they see and that is what they would follow. If you shout at them, they would shout at someone younger and the cycle goes on. If you tell them nicely in a gentle manner, they would follow. Children are blank canvases that are painted by parents and society. Do not blame the outcome of a painting on the canvas, it is the painters’ responsibility to make it look good.
Written by Suvena Naidu, Community Centre Manager of Berjaya Land Berhad Community Centre, 1Petaling