THERE are different views on how to discipline schoolchildren in Malaysia.
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid says school heads are allowed to delegate caning to a teacher if the need arises.
On the other hand, a child therapist says there must be ways for teachers to discipline students without resorting to corporal punishment.
Even parents differ on this matter.
When no particular approach is agreed upon, it falls on the teachers to bear the burden of dealing with indiscipline in the classroom.
Studies show that children learn best in an orderly and engaging environment. Also, children respond to discipline in different ways as each child is different.
Most teachers rely on intervention strategies to curb unproductive behaviour, while some use the threat of penalty to deter students from disrupting the learning environment.
If corporal punishment is seen as inappropriate, what is the best solution to disruptive behaviour?
Most psychologists, counsellors and therapists prefer a step-up approach, starting with a warning, in-class timeout, out-of-class timeout, followed by suspension and expulsion.
At times, isolating students from their peers and their learning environment helps. It allows teachers to continue teaching and students to continue learning. However, the “offending” students may find it difficult to get back to learning after missing class. They may continue to disengage from their studies.
Perhaps teachers should try teaching critical thinking, problem-solving and conflict resolution skills so that students can learn to keep their behaviour in check.
Teachers should be trained to create an engaging learning environment to minimise disruptive behaviour. They should seek ways to improve their engagement methodology rather than focusing on students’ misdeeds.
Teacher training institutes must ensure trainees learn how to create and sustain a supportive learning environment for students.
There will never be a one-size-fits-all approach as students
are shaped by different backgrounds. Individual personality traits play a part too.
Perhaps, no two schools could have the same approach to address disruptive behaviour in students.
Institut Pendidikan Guru Malaysia, Kampus Bahasa Antarabangsa, Kuala Lumpur