On Monday, pupils in my school were given the following rubric to write a composition: “I had seen it happen from the beginning to the end. So when the head teacher called me into his office.…”
The instructions required pupils to complete the story, making it as interesting as they could. However, the scenes narrated by the pupils were scary.
Buoyed by the recent incidents of arson in schools, they could not think of a better storyline than being summoned to the head teacher’s office as culprits. The entire class took off from the rubric and violently narrated how their colleagues meticulously plotted to raze dormitories and other infrastructure.
The intricacy of weaving award-winning violent essays with such ingenuity shocked me. After marking the scripts, I found myself wondering, why are we raising such a violent generation?
The Ministry of Education discourages violent storylines, narcotic-infested themes and such negative ‘creativity’. But learners, in their quest to make their essays interesting, fall into the temptation of violent scenes. Such a narration is severely penalised by denying the writer marks.
According to the young writers, violence thrills. It is also therapeutic. With bottled-up anger and other negative emotions, writing violently heals their minds.
Our media are awash with news of violence. A few months ago, hardly a day would pass without reports of fire outbreaks in schools. It is no longer surprising to hear of a school that has been burnt down by unruly students.
Students are ever waiting for the slightest provocation from the administration to raze their schools. But some of the reasons advanced by them are petty.
Burning down seven dormitories because the school administration has denied the students permission to watch a football match is not only petty but foolhardy. I am not saying that the students should not watch football matches. No, far from it. But burning seven school dormitories is just unthinkable.
What makes our students react so angrily to the slightest provocation? The environment in which they interact is full of violence. When politicians want to register displeasure with one another, they result to violence. Matatu crews and lawyers, too.
When the students’ closest friends — teachers — want to engage their employer, they always result to violence.
The only way to be heard, or so it seems, is by expressing one’s anger through violent means. But violence breeds violence. If you sow a seed of violence, you will abundantly reap violence.
For our students to result to violence, they must have copied from adults. As long as we set a bad example, we should be prepared to bear the heavy cost of burnt school facilities.
Ashford Gikunda, English and literature teacher, Kiambu.