I have a son who works really hard at school and he comes home with A+ for his work. However, yesterday, my son was dreading his day at school due to one particular teacher. When I questioned him why? He said “she always shouts at everyone in class and nobody likes her”. He then wished for his other teacher to teach him; who is also the headmistress of the school. Therefore, I started thinking about different approaches that teachers have and which approach works best with children within schools.
There is a variation between the approaches to behaviour management within schools (Ingram, 2012). Teachers face children who refuse to cooperate, rudeness and aggression. However, these are types of behaviours that teachers manage on a regular basis. Bear (2009) evaluates two popular techniques; these are positive discipline and assertive discipline. He believes that positive discipline is based on building self discipline through gathering the child’s social/emotional needs and giving a strong student relationship combined with individual responsibility. This is opposite to the behaviourist – style that is based on rewards and corrective actions that is eventually internalized by the individual.
Therefore, if having a child refusing to work within a classroom, teachers would need to decide what action to take. If the teacher is aware of the cause e.g. anxiety then various empathic responses could be preferred or perhaps the behaviourist approach might seem the better option; e.g. not awarding a house point or give the pupil detention. One of the issues here is; perhaps when showing warmth and understanding it can perhaps encourage the individual not to work in order to spend more time with the teacher and having one to one attention. However, on the other hand punishment can also give a negative effect by making the child feel the teacher is against them!
Therefore, this relies heavily on professional judgement that gives the correct balance of pastoral or the behaviourist approach. Therefore, which theory is correct as supporting psychological theories and research do not offer any rationale in deciding when one approach is better than the other? Again, Bear believes that the majority of schools are disciplined by punishment in order to achieve compliance to those who do not comply. Therefore, which is right? Should children have a positive or assertive discipline?
Bear, G. G. (2009). The positive in positive models of discipline. In R. Gilman, E.S. Hueber & M. J. Furlong (Eds.) Handbook of positive psychology in schools (pp.305-22). Abingdon: Routledge.
Inglam, R (2012). The Educational Meets the Evolutionary. The Psychologist vol.25 no. 3.