Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Group Punishments

I loathe group punishments for at least three reasons.

1. They create bullies.
2. They don't create accountability.
3. They are poorly targeted.

I remember back in first grade, Connor made a girl cry by announcing she was the reason the class didn't get their "mystery motivator" for the day. Since then, I haven't heard much about group punishments, until a friend of Connor's was over and he mentioned that sometimes the class lost recess, and had to walk around the building instead.

I did an absolute double-take at the ridiculousness of it all, and asked Connor if this happened in his class as well. As it turns out, if the class doesn't walk in a nice line to and from the main building (they're in trailers - which is the story of another series of posts that I haven't had the heart to write), they have to spend a portion of their recess practicing walking in lines. On top of this being a group punishment, it's on face ridiculous. Kids are being squirmy, so they lose a portion of their recess to forced marching, and that's supposed to make them less squirmy? The punishment is counter-intuitive, at best. And, it seems to me it violates the Wellness Policy in place that says taking away recess is to happen only in rare occasions and as a last resort.

According to Connor these processions happen often. Now, often may be a relative term, so I'm now collecting daily data from him to see how often it actually happens. He says he's not to blame. I bet every single kid says that (see #2 above).

I'm adding this to the list of items to discuss at Connor's conference on Wednesday morning. I figure the teacher is well aware of #3, has possibly thought of #2, but has she actually considered my #1 reason for hating group punishments and still doles them out? Because in my mind, the whole reason you have a group punishment is so that other kids bring the pain to the offending kids in some way that doesn't involve the teacher.

This might have become my #1 complaint of 3rd grade.


Edited to add: apparently 5 minutes of recess has been lost once, and this was a result of monkeying around in the cafeteria at lunch time. The "lunch ladies" have been asked to identify individuals instead, so that group punishments don't happen. Kids were warned if they misbehave in cafeteria, they could lose 10 minutes next time, but the teacher says this won't happen. I didn't get a clear feeling about the walking around the building - so data collection on that front must continue. But, it's at least possible that Connor's mention of this happening often may mean it happened once. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. I call group punishment the Catholic Theory of Crime, since it was a popular approach in my Catholic grade school: make a circle around the crime. Anyone in the circle is guilty. :)

    - H.