Friday, September 17, 2010

Service Learning: Week 3 - Ethics

When I think of the word ethics, I think of certain behaviors that society deems acceptable, and not necessarily an individual. The word morals on the other hand, are the principles and values that an individual holds. In Sao Mai, the behavior of the teachers seem to be ethically acceptable, however it seems different from my own morals. In Sao Mai, teachers are a lot mor strict and physically aggressive to the children. Teachers would hit the children who around 2-4 years old with not just their hands, but flag poles and chopsticks. When I say hit, I don’t really mean that the teachers beat the shit out of the children, but it does seem really painful, to me at least. When the teachers hit the kids, it is often because the kids aren’t doing something like sitting down right, paying attention, or just crying. However, these behavior of the kids seem standard to me, and not just because they are disabled or mentally ill that they act like this. My kids seem just like normal kids to me, if I hadn’t known that Sao Mai was a school for special children with disabilities, I wouldn’t have known that the kids were any different than the ones I see on the street. Therefore, I wonder the punishment of hitting these kids is because they are special children and need to be handled more forcefully, or if it is just how Vietnamese in general handle any kids. Ethnically, is it wrong for these teachers to punish the children in Vietnamese culture or is it because in America, physical punishment is frowned upon that I think it is ethnically wrong? Once I saw the teacher coming after the kids with a chopstick, I was like “oh damn, that’s an Asian parent for ya.” Also, when I handle the children, I tend to handle them more gently than the teachers do. I do not drag a kid across the room in order for him to sit down, but rather instead just coax him into the chair. It’s hard for me to be forceful with the children, but if I’m not, it seems to make the teachers upset when I coddle them. But it’s against my morals to hit children. I wonder if what I am doing is something that the teachers do not like because in a way it is coddling the children, yet at the same time, they are children who just want to run around, talk crazy, and be held. What really makes them different from other children that the teachers need to handle them more forcefully? I use to think that we have to handle children with special needs more lightly and others, yet here in Sao Mai, they handle them stricter. What is the better method? What is more ethically correct?

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