How To Move Beyond “Controlling” Behavior To Achieve Cooperation

Punishment in schools, while sometimes effective in the short-term, negatively impacts classroom community and student learning. There is a better way to manage a classroom effectively and support engaged, active learning.

Intentional Teach Project

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Moving Beyond Punishment To Control Student Behavior

There is – what I’m going to argue is – a myth that persists in our education system  that the best way to improve behavior is to use punishment to address misbehavior.

It’s so inherently part of our society (and our own education experience), that we largely don’t even question it. 

In our homes:

  • The best way to stop a kid from hitting? Time out.
  • To reduce tantrums and whining? Tantrum (or fussing, as it was called when I was a kid) charts.
  • To address back-talk? Grounding.

In our schools:

  • The best way to deal with classroom disruptions and disrespect? Loss of recess. Lunch detentions. 
  • To improve participation? Participation grades and zeroes.

In society:

  • The best way to prevent speeding? Tickets and fines.

Of course, punishment – and the threat of it – does work for many people, maybe even most people. But it comes with its downsides – its dangers, even.

In this episode, let’s explore this question — is this the best way to get the cooperation we are aiming for in our classrooms? Is punishment going to help us – teachers and students – become “partners in learning”?  And if not, what can we do instead?

How can we effectively manage a classroom to achieve the cooperation we need?

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