Thursday, 6 May 2010

Punsihment and rewards in schools

Now I was always the ‘good kid’ in school. You know the one I’m talking about, the one who always stays in line, never plays up for the teacher, stays quiet in class and just generally behaves and respects authority. Needless to say I got a lot of trouble from the ‘bad kids’ for my approach. I had a few threaten to ‘deck’ me at times, and I left the school premises worried that someone was going to jump out from around a corner at me more than once. However, all of this, even though it went on in class a lot of the time, seemed to go largely unnoticed by the teachers. No one ever noticed that I was being threatened in the classroom or anything. But then again, they never really seemed to notice me at all. I just got down to work, did my work well, didn’t cause trouble and didn’t draw attention to myself. But did I ever get rewarded for doing well in school? Nope. Outside of the fact that I got good ‘qualifications’ (GCSEs cease to be important once you’ve got into college anyway), I never received one jot of support from the teachers for doing well in school. Nor did I receive anything for behaving myself.

Now the ‘bad’ kids, who disrespected the teachers, never did their work, disrupted classes, made it impossible for anyone else to learn and took up all of the teacher’s time, in our school anyway, were sent to the ‘report room’. This was apparently a punishment – to be taken out of the class with their work and sent to a room where they were watched over by a single teacher. So they were taken out of class and forced to do the work they would have otherwise had to do in class anyway. Well. Some punishment.

Later in my school career they introduced an addition to the report room. Repeated offenders, as it were, were taken out of classes completely and placed in a special class on their own with other students of similar behaviour levels so that they wouldn’t disturb other students. A noble objective to be sure. But let’s not forget the fact that this meant the ‘bad’ kids were being taken out of regular classes and placed in smaller classes as a punishment for bad behaviour. I don’t know about anyone else, but being in smaller classes with better and easier student to pupil interaction sounds like more of a reward than a punishment to me. Meanwhile, all the ‘good’ kids like me are stuck in classes of 20+ students, at the least, with teachers who, in my honest opinion, quite often really don’t care about the subject they’re teaching or whether they are giving their students the appropriate knowledge or not. Right. This sounds fair doesn’t it?

Just for the icing on the cake, our school THEN decided that, as a reward for their ‘improved’ behaviour, this special class got a nice shiny reward of a trip to Alton Towers. Hm. Something strikes me as rather odd here. Let’s weigh up what our school said to the two respective classes shall we.

To the special class: “Well, you’ve behaved badly, but since you’ve been behaving better recently we’re going to take you Alton Towers as a reward.”

To the normal class: “...” Yeah. Silence. That’s what we got. No recognition of good behaviour or anything.

This is just stupid in my opinion. Why should schools reward badly behaved pupils who then decide to act normal for a change. Why don’t the ones who behaved all along get the same treatment? The most we ever got was an extra revision book in History class and a revision/study residential weekend trip to Matlock in Year 11 just before the exams. I don’t know about anyone else but I’d take Alton Towers any day.

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