Being in charge of a class always causes stress for teachers who are starting. It is also one of the most common reasons why teachers are resigning.
Therefore, it is not surprising that teachers resort to methods such as punishment to change the problematic behavior of their students since they are apparently effective.
The collective punishments are one of these methods. Collective punishment in a school is when a group of students is punished, for example, the whole class, or even the course, for the acts of a few.
An example of this type of punishment could be when teachers take time off from recess or lunchtime if a class has misbehaved, or when the entire school is prohibited from playing in the playground because it is too dirty or messy.
Although collective punishment is used, it is unfair and also unlikely to improve children’s behavior, so why is it still acceptable in most education department policies?
Why do people use collective punishment?
Collective punishment seems to be immediately effective when it comes to achieving student obedience. For example, having the entire course pick up trash instead of having free time will probably make the yard clean, and the next day there will be less trash.
All punishments depend on the idea that the experience imposed by the teacher will be unpleasant enough to condition students to alter their behavior in the future.
Behaviorists used this method successfully for the first time with rats and other animals in 1960. Then these behavior alteration strategies were adopted in class and are still used today.
Like the idea of individual punishment to modify behavior, collective punishment is considered more effective since it incorporates the group pressure factor. Collective punishment reduces the responsibility of teachers and puts it on the group, making them responsible for imposing social sanctions.
No one likes the child who takes away their mealtimes.
Another reason why teachers can opt for collective punishment is, ironically, to promote class unity. The idea is that by making the entire group responsible for the actions of an individual, the entire group will be more united.
This is a common strategy in sports and the army. In one class, the theory is that the entire class could come together, and act more responsibly in the future.
Why is collective punishment a bad idea?
Although children may initially react well to this type of punishment, and obey, there are two main reasons why this strategy should be abandoned. First, it is morally questionable, and second, it is unlikely to promote positive behavior in the long run.
The idea that a group is responsible for the actions of an individual is fundamentally against the theories of responsibility in modern western societies. Legally and morally, each person owns their actions and has to accept the consequences of these actions individually.
At a more basic level, it is unreasonable to punish a child for the acts of another. These two moral concerns would not be acceptable in society, so why should they be in the school environment?
Second, there is no clear evidence that punishments do not produce the desired effect and do not improve problem behavior.
In fact, research suggests that punitive responses actually worsen students’ problem behavior. A student usually misbehaves when they feel disconnected, and this feeling of disconnection may come from feeling excluded from their peers and teachers.
The negative group pressure associated with collective punishment creates the possibility of aggravating this social exclusion, worsening the disconnection of this student.
It is not difficult to imagine that the same case could occur with students who are punished for something they have not done.
What other options do teachers have?
Teachers normally use this method of collective punishment when students are bothering, for example when they are talking all the time, getting distracted, throwing garbage, or talking out of turn.
This behavior occurs when students are not paying attention because they are disconnected, and the first thing schools can do is promote participation.
Participation improves the feeling of belonging, makes them have fun in class, and increases the value they associate with education.
Ways to promote participation include prioritizing the individual well-being of students, designing classes explicitly so that they are interesting, and creating a safe and enjoyable learning environment. If a student wants to be in school, he is much more likely to behave.
Pedagogical methods such as universal learning design (which includes giving students various ways to gain knowledge), or experimentation-based learning (where students are helped to discover what they learn), and cultivate an inclusive school climate and positive, it can result in fewer behaviors that come from disconnection.
When this type of behavior occurs, teachers have to implement strategies that do not further disconnect students, such as reminders of the rules, or low-level talks. These strategies should be tailored to students individually to address the subliminal causes of their behavior – which may be something out of the students’ control.
After all, it is possible that the reason behind the bad behavior was a previous punishment.