School Staffrooms: are they really dens of terror for students?

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I’ve never been the type to scare easily, but staffroom-related tales from my friends have a tendency of hitting that fear spot, especially with their reliability. When you go to boarding schools, you’ll meet bullies and when you go to highschool there’s an even higher risk of bigger and scarier bullies, this is the common phrase a lot of us receive before we are sent to schools.

Does anyone ever remember to mention that the main bullies, the uncontrollable bullies, the bullies in charge, the ones you can’t complain to anyone else about because they’re the ones with the power, the bullies that emotionally and mentally manipulate you in their den, their hive, the place in which they thrive the most, the

A nightmare for so many students at whatever level, from the anxiety of being scolded or punished by a given teacher to being gang beaten or ridiculed by a group of self-loathing, underpaid individuals who are known commonly by their other name, teachers.

Many a time students have left the staffroom area traumatized, physically hurt, or just breathing a sigh of relief at being outside the confines of the dragon’s belly that is the scary staffroom. teachers as bullies are hardly talked about, especially when the circumstantial evidence puts a student on the wrong, begging the question, shouldn’t there be set punishments for specific wrongdoings to avoid children being overly hurt in the name of projected teachers’ anger ?

The competition. during this phenomenon, no one wanted to be anywhere within calling distance of the staffroom. when teachers would compete who would hit the kids the most as they laughed, even remembering it sends shudders down my spine as I recall the teachers running students in a chain as they caned them for a mistake that could’ve easily been handled by one teacher who was directly affected or in charge of the student’s misdemeanor.


The competition also continued when a student stood in front of a hungry lot of teachers in the staffroom can anyone recall the sadistic laughter of teachers as they cajoled and mocked a student? ganged up on them for no reason and dissected their self-worth in front of the other teachers.

What was worse was that you couldn’t even cry, because that would set off the masochist in them and they would rain hellfire upon you with heaps and heaps of shameful words of spite like, “why are you crying?” “ukilizwa nani amekuchapa utasema nini?” “you won’t survive in the tough outside world if you cry after a little scolding” “you soft kids of this generation wouldn’t hack life out here”

The main thing, however, is that this is so normalized that students don’t even feel like they have a right to complain or report this, and even if they did report it, to whom would they send their grievances? the parents who take things either too lightly or too seriously to a point they even transfer their children to other schools, leaving the problem still in existence but removing their children from the equation?

I asked several of my friends for their input on their memories of high school and primary school staffrooms, others didn’t even want to talk about it, others remember teachers as the only bullies they’ve ever had, and some remembered it as I did, a nerve-wracking moment before the hyenas reigned terror on you, either physically or emotionally, preying on the naivety of students who could do nothing about their situation.

Once, when I was in highschool, a teacher called me to the staffroom where I found half my class kneeling beside the teachers. I had been unwell so I was just now leaving the nurse’s office after lunch when I was summoned, and off I went, my mind playing out a plethora of situations and scenarios that I had recently been in to determine what could’ve caused the summoning to the staffroom.

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As it turns out, we were there for not completing our English assignments as per the teacher’s liking. technically I was there to ‘judge’ the other students’ works as they were subpar. the teachers watched me closely as I read the compositions, asking me to read out loud the ‘nonsense’ that they were being subjected to marking.

For once I saw it through different eyes, I’d always been on the other side, on the side of the kneeling kids, always being in the wrong and thinking I deserved it and that it was fit punishment for students like us who were ‘indisciplined’. But these weren’t students who had done anything wrong, they were students who had not done their homework, merely students who struggled with the language, with composing exemplary written works.

Perhaps as their peer, it would be different if I cajoled them once in a while, seeing as a lot of us always seem to think that as long as someone is at the level in which we are, then they know just as much as we do, which isn’t always the case but its much worse than a person that has studied how to teach and how different students are at grasping the content they’ve been taught.

On that day, amid the teacher’s cackles and their pointless banter, I saw the students give up a little bit more, on themselves, on the system, on the teachers meant to help them, and on education in general, for what is the point of learning if it makes you contemptuous to the ones who need the knowledge and kindness the most?

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