A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. > Time For a Coffee Break!

s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments

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HoneyBee42:
I saw several posts about collective awards or punishments (a pizza party for a whole grade school class for perfect attendance, the charter school with the perfect attendance/lecture combo).

I honestly have never understood *why* this was (and still is) used in school settings.  I mean, it makes sense for a collective *group* (like band, orchestra, chorus, teams for sports) to be rewarded as a group for a job well done (daughter plays in band, they had state contest today) or penalized (middle son's baseball team has to do sprints for dropped balls when they're doing drills).  But classroom settings don't make sense to me, at all.

Maybe, too, my thoughts are influenced by my own experiences.  In junior high, we were sentenced to "silent lunch" (no talking whatsoever allowed during lunch, there was no recess), and it just went on and on so long that it was like the norm, rather than a punishment (because if someone talked during silent lunch, we'd get more days tacked on, but it would be multiple days for a single infraction, or maybe it was something like two people [i.e. both halves of the conversation] would each get a day added, so one conversation was a minimum of two days.  It was ridiculous.

In grade school, they would make an entire class stand in line during the whole of recess (also, no talking or fidgeting allowed) for the infractions of a few members of the class (like 2 or 3 out of the 30).

Those things, I suffered through, although it  caused me to have very little respect for the adults imposing the punishment--not that I was outwardly defiant, but I felt that it was extremely unfair and that there was nothing that I could do to change the situation.

Except for the time when I was in third grade.  (Recounting this story to my children now, they said "Mom, you were a renegade").  My regular third grade teacher was removed mid-year (I learned years later, as an adult, that it was due to alcoholism) and replaced with a long-term substitute.  I loathed the substitute, not only for not being my 'real teacher' (to whom I was rather attached, and the no-warning removal was as upsetting to me as if my teacher had dropped dead in the classroom) but also because of her "classroom management" techniques.

There was the lesser level, which I was able to manage on my own.  Her idea was that a bright student who finished early should be made to help the slower students.  The worst was with math, which came right before recess.  If the math work wasn't done, you had to stay in for recess.  So if you were helping another student and the other student wasn't done, you both had to stay in (which led to a lot of hissing "the answer is 56, just write it down already!" "come on, write down 56, let's get done!  I don't care if you don't understand, just write it down!")  In my defense, I was 8, and didn't really understand why what came so easily to me was hard to get for someone else.  In the end, I learned to pretend to still be working so as to avoid having to help someone who would cost me a recess (unless we were standing in line, in which case I didn't care, but still didn't resolve the issue that I couldn't really explain the math other than just 'here's the answer, write it down' which sure didn't help that other child in the long run).

The worst, though, was when she brought in the two trees with ribbons.  The project was announced that for any misbehavior (talking in class, not turning in homework, etc), a ribbon had to be removed from the tree.  When all ribbons from one tree were gone, the side of the classroom with ribbons still on their tree would get to have a pizza party, the side of the classroom with the bare tree would have to sit on the other side of the room watching the pizza party and doing math problems.  Well, as it happened, the worst behaved boy was on the side that I was on, so of course, the tree for my side of the classroom got emptied first.  Yet, during this entire project, I hadn't removed a single ribbon personally (the boy in question had personally removed about 75% of the ribbons, and there were a lot of kids who had removed one or none, personally).  Well, it was announced "tomorrow, 'team ribbon' will have their pizza party, and 'team bare tree,' you will be doing a lot of math problems."  Well, here came my one moment of standing up (the renegade comment from my kids), and I stood up and objected and said that it was not fair, that I personally had not removed a single ribbon and there was no way that I could stop [named by name 75% boy] from talking in class or make him get his homework done and turned in--furthermore, [named the name of a girl on the other team] had personally removed 20 ribbons, which was more than all of the rest of us on the team combined; therefore, this wasn't fair, and using collective punishment and rewards was unfair to those of us who had behaved and were punished as well as being unjust in that those who had misbehaved were still getting the 'good behavior' reward.  In the end, there was a pizza party for the whole class the next day, though I don't remember if 75% boy and 20-ribbon girl were allowed to participate or not.

So honestly, where did this idea come from (for classroom use)?  Is there even *one* example of a classroom use resulting in the formerly always-misbehaving child have improved behavior?

TootsNYC:
The time I think a collective punishment is appropriate is when the entire class dynamic is the problem. A huge percentage of the class is rowdy in the hallways, and many of the people who are not loud are nonetheless a receptive audience.

Otherwise, I find them frustrating.

mime:
That ribbon idea was just awful, and I'm impressed that you stood up for yourself and the other good kids in your half of the class-- that would be hard for a child to do!

I remember some of our grade-school classes earning points for "popcorn parties". The class earned and lost points as a whole and there were some of us who would get irritated with the few who couldn't seem to control themselves during class. Lost points would be immediate when a kid misbehaved and sometimes there was peer-pressure where the whole class would blame one or two culprits for losing our popcorn party. I suppose that may have been the goal: to get kids to follow the herd and behave, but it was rare and not especially effective.

Like you, I hated the idea. I still do. If we want kids to grow up and be accountable for their own behavior, then they should be punished and rewarded for their own behavior. I don't agree with teaching kids that they will be punished for someone else's behavior. I also don't think that they should be expected to reign in misbehaving classmates -- the teacher needs to control the class.

kherbert05:
As a teacher I agree. The only time I use it is in line. We are required to turn around if a child is acting up. I pointed out that 1 kid would act up all of specials time if we were going to art or computers because he hates those classes. Principal and AP agreed that instead he would have to practice walking properly at recess and the kids get to go to specials and I get my break.


Silent lunch is usually individual at my school. If the cafeteria gets too loud we call silence and once it is silent then we say reset your voices to work station voices. They repeat workstation voices in a whisper. That is usually all it takes. We had one parent go to the principal, without taking to any 2nd grade teacher, complaining we punished the kids with silent lunch every day no matter what.


We had been having a problem with kids talking all through lunch and not eating - then getting upset when it was time to leave. So we started 5 min of silence at the end of lunch. Since then the kids have been finishing their lunches on time and the transition back to the classroom is smoother and the kids are calmer.


The principal was irritated with the parent, because he was complaining before his child didn't have time to finish his lunch. The parent thought we should just wait till everyone was finished before leaving the cafeteria. We have 2 hours to get 540 students fed in a cafeteria/school built for about 400 students. So that wasn't an option.

bloo:
It contributed - in a small way - to why I opted to homeschool my kids.

My DS and DD were in 4th and 3rd grade, respectively, in their last year of Bricks-n-mortar school. The schedule they had was pretty frustrating for all of us. At school by 8am, home by 2:30 (I picked them up by car or we biked home together) and immediately they had to start on their homework. I had a snack and they had to sit at the table til homework was done. They needed more help than I would have thought necessary, even with my son being in Special Ed with an IEP due to his dyslexia. They were pretty much hopping in their seats, so occasionally I'd have them run around outside for a few minutes before doing homework.

Sometimes it would take them a couple of hours to get homework done (in elementary school? I really don't remember that for myself) and then it was time for dinner, clean up, chores and bath for next day. Three days a week we had to study for each of our religious meetings. So on Tuesday and Thursday evenings it was non-stop for our kids. Forget extra curricular activities like a sport or a musical instrument!  So I was pretty frustrated when I saw how they handled the misbehavior of a few during class was to withhold recess. My kids, and I think they're not unusual, greatly benefited from expending themselves physically so they could concentrate on schoolwork. 

As an aside, I was also equally annoyed when, on gorgeous days, my kids would come home and tell me that they stayed in to watch a movie because the teachers wouldn't take them outside. That happened way too often - for my tastes anyway.

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