Reading this article reminded me that type of thinking has led to the new normal of people who can’t handle criticism and get offended by anything and everything. I’d like to know more about the schools where this was implemented and they saw success. It’s usually effective but there are still some kids that will try to take advantage of a teacher like this and actually respond best to black and white discipline, at least until the teacher can utilize this technique without getting walked on, which is a tricky skill. (But tons of things are effective that are difficult to implement. “How” has to be a part of the conversation. I’m sure it would save time, and kids would learn better without disruptions and with positive relationships with their teachers. I think it’d be absolutely worthwhile to invest in. But I also think it’s still a pretty tough sell. It’s easy to say one hour a week is not a big deal (“doesn’t have anything in itself to do with overworked teachers “) when you’re not the one living that reality.
It raises a flag to me that the school was able to commit to 20 weeks of teacher training for this, and diverts funds to change classroom layouts. Makes me think that this school is in a unique position financially, or makes me wonder what they “diverted funds” away from (arts is a common choice).
Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a lot to be said for this approach. Hands down, building a relationship with a kid is the best approach to classroom management, although how you build that relationship will vary (not every kid is going to respond to you just asking what’s going on when they’re being a handful). Also worth mentioning that this doesn’t HAVE to be a “hugs and kisses” approach – you can be completely compassionate and patient and still take zero shit. But I do think it takes a lot of effort, and in overcrowded and underfunded schools (read: most places, especially those that might benefit most from this) there’s not a lot of time for this approach.
Especially in a situation where half your class needs this kind of personal attention and you’ve got 30-60 kids in one room all reading way below grade level and you’re being required to dedicate a certain amount of class time to test prep, etc… I think the reason the “carrot and stick” is so prevalent isn’t because it works particularly well but because it’s a shortcut, and most teachers are desperate for shortcuts in our convoluted system.
The article left a few questions with me as well, and I’ll try to be brief. It talks mostly about repeat offenders, kids that have disorders, ADD, ADHD, etc., but doesn’t really talk much about the “average” kid that just wants to push the limits of authority. It also doesn’t say how these kids were diagnosed, which is a huge deal. Were these kids tested by a specialist or were these kids just given medication because a parent told an MD to “do something”? Yes, this happens. More often than people want to believe.
I like that it makes the point of kids’ brains not being fully developed. Kids develop at different rates and this needs to be addressed by the system. Not all kids learn the same, but that’s another conversation altogether.
The article also doesn’t mention much about when punishment is appropriate. Certainly, kids need to learn to control themselves and this is one method to teach that. But kids also need to learn that with certain behavior comes certain consequences.