• Wed
  • Jul 23, 2014
  • Updated: 1:22pm
NewsHong Kong

Teachers lament unreasonable complaints from 'monster parents'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 5:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 5:00am

Demanding a change in a school's lunch provider because it did not have pizza on the menu. Expecting a five-minute grace period for latecomers to class because waking up earlier would affect their children's sleep quality.

These are just two of countless complaints lodged by "monster parents" at their children's schools, a survey of teachers has found.

The poll found 64 per cent of the complaints were "unreasonable requests", while 72 per cent of teachers found the attitude or tone of complaining parents "inappropriate".

The survey, by the Federation of Education Workers, polled 442 teachers from kindergartens, primary and secondary schools across the city late last month.

It found that 40 per cent of teachers received complaints from parents in the past six months, with kindergarten teachers the biggest target.

Common complaints related to commendations and punishments pupils received, bullying and pupils' workload.

Nancy Lam Chui-ling, a kindergarten principal and federation member, said the phenomenon might be due to a rising number of "monster parents".

"We need more parental education," she said. "Whenever teachers praise pupils, parents are happy. But when pupils underperform and are punished, parents would often come to us and defend their children."

Federation vice-chairman Wu Siu-wai said: "We are not saying parents should not complain - they have the right to do so. But we hope there would be more respect and that they would also note schools' constraints."

Wu suggested that the government allocate more resources to help reduce teachers' workload in dealing with complaints for parents. It could also provide them with free or subsidised mediation skills training, he said.

An Education Bureau spokesman said a pilot project to help schools establish a complaint-handling mechanism has been in place since September 2012.



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

A child’s sleep needs are a huge part of their development. For a school to be so inflexible as to ignore a parent’s desire to properly care for their child is a big concern to me. And the whole idea of praise and rewards and punishment.If schools go down that route, then suffer the concequences to the unjust nature of them! This behaviouralist approach is scientifically proven to be be BAD FOR KIDS! Prepare for people to retaliate against the unjust nature of it. As an educator in Asia I have dealt with some difficult situations with families I have worked with. But the last thing we should be doing is sticking a stereotype on them of the “monster parent”. I’ve seen too many “monster teachers” to be feeling comfortable with that label!
Lets do what we can to help parents in their needs. Make time to communicate with them. Be transparent, be honest, if there isn’t time, let them know, and find staff in leadership to help with the task. I do feel that the climate creates monstrous parenting moments. Parents smile and separate from their beloved children with very little continuity of care. It is a very sudden change from a home environment to an institutional one. Parents must worry terribly, and hide these feelings knowing this is “how it is”. I am sure parents often swallow concerns for children before finally blowing up.Look at what schools do to parents and children in the selection process! After that abuse, I would say give the schools all you have monster parents!
How utterly disgraceful that Nancy Lam Chui-ling, a kindergarten principal thinks it might be appropriate to "punish" children for "underperforming" This illustrates everything that is wrong with this city in which children as young as 5 are forced into after school classes in order to improve their "performance" at school. What children of kindergarten age need is to PLAY. The lack of play that Hong Kong children are experiencing is extremely damaging to their ability to develop into happy, independent and successful learners. The Education Bureau would do well to have a very serious look at the pressure young children are under, and consider the long term implications of this. Any kindergarten which has a policy of punishing children for "underperforming" should be shut down. A principal who thinks "punishing" children is effective or appropriate should be struck off.
I can understand your concern as the term 'punishment' is so laden with memories of painful and damaging practices from the past. And it may well be that this Principal has a very negative and heavy approach to less than acceptable student performance. But it may also be a matter of semantics and if this Principal means something more like what I would refer to as 'consequences', then I would have to disagree with you and support her. I agree that expectations are too high for kids at a young age here and that kids should not have homework in K1 and K2 and that they should be playing a lot more. But, at the same time, they do need to be learning to be responsible and consequences for inappropriate behaviour are necessary. i also thing they should be easing into incrementally increasing periods of more focused learning. It should not be ALL play.
It's all about common courtesy and having a dialogue, not throwing accusations. Also, realizing that your child does not deserve to be treated like a Royal heir. Grow the heck up, people for goodness sake!


SCMP.com Account