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Classroom discipline

October 25, 2007

In a previous post about education; “Test Anxiety, Stand And Deliver” we got some really informative comments from an experienced teacher, who made the following point about classroom discipline:

Discipline – I am amazed that schools spend so much time on curriculum and yet spend so little time on a cohesive discipline plan. Parents rarely know that their child is in trouble until the child has been suspended or received some form of severe punishment.  This despite the fact that there are more lines of communication than ever before – ie. websites, email, phone, etc. Parents know instantly how there child is doing with grades thanks to online grades nowadays. However, there is no place for discipline…
(More than one teacher chimed in… go read!)

And today Dynamics Of Cats picks up the same theme:

I was talking to a friend recently. As with many of the volunteers she has no training in education and no experience with actual teaching of groups. She is a professional with two kids of her own.
She mentioned the “two trouble boys” in the class she was helping with, and said she had tried to work with one of them.
After trying to cajole him and then order him to do something, he turned to her and told her bluntly: “I’m not doing it, and you can’t make me”.

He is seven years old. And, he is right…

    Dynamics Of Cats: Children Of Our Time

DOC then carries the idea to a frightening conclusion: Someday those kids will grow up and hold responsible positions in business and government.  And they may still be the same defiant, self-centered little brats at heart when they do.

Must admit I’m stumped by this one.  How can schools get parents onboard with their kids’ discipline?  The solution must, like the problem does, extend beyond school walls.

I told my kids they did not have to respect the teacher, but they had to be respectful towards the teacher.  They were never to disrupt the class, among other things.  But what else?  How do we make it matter to the parents?  I mean not just some punitive measure, but how do we convey the importance of a disciplined learning environment to the parents?

Categories: Education
  1. james old guy
    October 26, 2007 at 07:56 | #1

    What did you expect? There is no such thing as actual punishment anymore. Parents won’t discipline their kids and threaten to sue the school for attempting any kind of minor punishment.  I had an employee about 8 years ago who had a kid that was a major problem, she never actually punished him for anything and threatened the school when they expelled him. Of course the school folded, it had no choice the school board was also afraid of lawsuits. They did the time out bullshit, and all those other half hearted attempts to get him under control, nothing worked.  Two years ago he was shot dead in a drug deal gone bad.  There are a lot of old sayings that have a basis in truth “ Spare the rod spoil the child”, “ kids should be seen and not heard “ are just two.
    I am not saying kids should not be protected against abuse, but we have taken the discipline responsibilities away from parents and given it to no one.  Corporal punishment has been outlawed , so what is left?

  2. Lucas
    October 26, 2007 at 16:15 | #2

    http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=398104

    “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders…. They no longer
    rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
    chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their
    legs, and are tyrants over their teachers.”

    (See the link for discussion of attribution—usually attributed to Socrates.)

    When I look around me in graduate school, I mostly see bright, intellectually curious, well behaved people.  I guess that politicians and teachers must have been totally satisfied with us when we were in school in the 80’s and 90’s.  (DOF probably has something to say about this.) 

    Remember, the cream rises to the top, but more importantly, people grow up.  Children misbehave, it’s true, and I imagine that it’s incredibly frustrating to be facing a room full of ill-behaved students.  Many of them *will* realize the importantance of respecting authority as their life progresses.  I know I’m certainly much better behaved and better able to function in responsible roles than I was in high school.

  3. Mrs SEB
    November 7, 2007 at 14:42 | #3

    Yes, all children misbehave, but it should be rare for anyone to face a full room of “ill-behaved” students. It’s not about a full room; it’s about the minority percentage that monopolizes everyone’s time and energy.  It is about that minority that puts everyone at physical, psychological and academic risk. The issue revolves around: How do we deal with the extremes?  How do we cultivate, nurture, and maintain a safe, tolerant, cooperative community in our classrooms? We need a boatload of parental support and participation to accomplish this goal.

    As far as corporal punishment… I am not in favor of re-establishing the “spare to rod, spoil the child” or the “children should be seen and not heard” policies.  Violence begets violence. What do you really teach a child when they are physically assaulted (spanked/hand-slapped) for poking, hitting, pushing, spitting, etc another human being?  Maybe, I’ll get you back?  Or, don’t get caught?  How does this influence the positive growth of this child into a happy, functional, productive member of society?

    Children need to be heard.  They need to have a voice, but not necessarily the final word.  How else will our children develop their logic and reasoning skills?  Providing a structured environment that not only establishes classroom rules with consequences/rewards, but also teaches and utilizes conflict resolution is vital in the cognitive develop of all children/students. 

    Simply stating that it “must be frustrating” to face these out of control students is the understatement of the century.  It’s not just “frustrating” to have severely misbehaving students in the classroom.  It’s dangerous for the other students and the teacher as well as degrading the quality of education for all.

    How do you expect a teacher to teach if one or two or “a few” of the students are running rampant?  Not just “interrupting” by talking out or moving about in the classroom, but actually destroying property and initiating verbal and physical confrontations with other students (and possibly the teacher, themselves)? As the adult in the environment you can not “ignore” when Sam snatches Jill’s chair out from under-her.  Or “overlook” Kendra’s dash and snatch move, followed by dumping and grinding all of Bobby’s crayons underfoot.  Neither can you ask the classroom to “never mind” when Ian begins screaming at his seat while shredding his spelling manual and throwing the pieces in the air. 

    And, yes these are examples of average “misbehavior” both my parents encountered in their various K, 1st grade, 3 grade, and 5th grade classrooms throughout their careers as professional public school elementary teachers.  I also experienced a great deal of said misbehavior in my short lived teaching career.

    However, I beg to differ with the statement:

    Children misbehave, it’s true, and I imagine that it’s incredibly frustrating to be facing a room full of ill-behaved students.  Many of them *will* realize the importantance of respecting authority as their life progresses.

    No, most do not.  THINK: Why are we having such a difficult time coordinating parental support?  These children (if they survive) are becoming our parents.  They are becoming the parents who are often too young, self absorbed and often underdeveloped socially & cognitively to even understand there is a problem or care if they do comprehend. The 80s/90s have not produced a stellar quality parent. 

    I guess that politicians and teachers must have been totally satisfied with us when we were in school in the 80’s and 90’s.

    I believe if you talk with career educators & politicians whose careers span the 80s/90s to the present day you will find their answers to be: There wasn’t (and isn’t) satisfaction.

    Some of “our parents,” may have been more interactive and cooperative with the schools at that time.  Hence, their participation cultivated a better environment to grow their children’s social skills. Hence Lucas has become better able to function in responsible roles as an adult than he believed he was capable of doing in High School.

    But, I tend to feel that, maybe, just maybe this was when it all began… A trend of parental neglect or parental ignorance (too busy with myself to want to deal with my kids) that is eating away at our society’s foundation.  One in which “suiting” the school or threatening to do so results from disciplining my child (when I do not) because it makes me look bad.  I believe that 90% of parental outcry and action at this time has nothing to do with what is best for their children.

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