1)Often, it is found that potentially dangerous forms of disciplining are frequently resorted to in India. These include physical and emotional punishment and in some cases, negative reinforcement by the teachers. Although these are old forms of school violence, they have only recently started to be looked upon systematically as a problem. Until now, corporal punishment and negative
reinforcement and the forms these take, were frequently dismissed, and ignored in India.
However, it is now being realized that their effects are quite concerning.
Further, it is also in light of a cultural acceptance of such harmful and ineffective disciplining processes, that issues as serious as bullying, teasing and ragging in schools escape scrutiny and redressal.
In the light of the aforementioned observations, discuss the following questions:
(a) What are the effects of such processes of disciplining on the growth and development of children?
(b) Suggest some alternate ways to ensure disciplining of school children.
The present case relates to the efficacy and harmful effects of resorting to punishment and negative reinforcement on children.
(a) Schools typically respond to disruptive students with negative reinforcement, sanctions and punishment in the form of office referrals, corporal punishment, suspensions and expulsions. Such interventions have limited value and only offer a short term fix to a chronic problem. Additionally, they negatively impact the growth and well-being of the children in the following ways:
Punitive actions and segregation further deviant behavior and vandalism among the students, particularly when they are perceived as unfair.
Corporal punishment leads to fear and produces resentment among the learners. Such kind of fear increases anxiety and leads to insecurity.
Suspension and expulsion disproportionately affect students with emotional and behavioral disorders, contributing to school disengagement, lost opportunities to learn, and increases dropout rate.
When children are beaten in front of others, pain or fear frequently become a source of shame that unnerves and depresses the mind.
It gives an in-principle approval to ills like bullying, which can have detrimental effects on the confidence and sense of security of a child.
Sometimes suspension and time-out allow students to escape aversive or challenging situations. This proves counter-productive as it develops escapist tendencies among students.
Physical punishment increases antisocial behaviour, increases risks of depression, lowers academic success and sometimes leads to delinquency.
(b) Disciplined behavior of students can be warranted by understanding the developmental needs of students, socioeconomic status, school and classroom composition, role expectations and capacity to meet the roles etc. Following are the alternatives that could discipline the children:
Having a set of guidelines for teachers: These may include acting immediately and as quietly as possible when a problem appears. Further, the teacher should focus on the misbehavior and not on the pupil who misbehaved and avoid responding out of anger as a teacher who remains calm is more effective.
Use of non verbal techniques: Nonverbal techniques must be employed before verbal ones particularly for maintaining classroom discipline. For instance, methods like stopping the student who misbehaves abruptly, use of cues like facial expressions, raising one’s hand etc. are more likely to get the student’s attention and increase his/her awareness.
Verbal techniques: These should be employed when nonverbal techniques appear to be ineffective. For instance, mentioning the disruptive student’s name to make the pupil pay attention in the class.
Behavioral methods: Certain behavioral correction techniques can be used to reduce misbehaviour by providing reinforcement for desirable and correct behaviour. Some of them are:
○ Behavior modification technique: It is based on the assumption that behaviour, whether good or bad, is likely to recur if it is reinforced. The teacher should make a list of problematic behaviors called ‘target behaviours’ and write down an appropriate response against each.
○ Contingency contracting: Contingency contracting is a kind of contract signed by both the teacher and students which specifies the exact desired behavior and the consequences for its non-compliance. It contains elements such as specifying expected gains, desirable behaviour, sanctions etc.
○ Response cost: This method allows students to earn reinforcement for good behaviour and lose them for misbehaviour.
In addition to the above measures, a consultative body should be set up involving teachers, administrators and parents. The matter should be taken up by this body if the above -mentioned measures fail.