Teachers should practise positive discipline

According to the South African Schools Act, the main focus of the Code of Conduct must be positive discipline; it must not be punitive and punishment-oriented but should facilitate constructive learning and teaching.

According to the South African Schools Act, the main focus of the Code of Conduct must be positive discipline; it must not be punitive and punishment-oriented but should facilitate constructive learning and teaching.

Under the sub-title, Reflection, users are asked to take a minute to think about their own disciplinary practices by reflecting on several pertinent questions:

l Do you or have you ever used corporal punishment?

l If so, under what circumstances?

l Do you recognise why the change in focus from corporal punishment to alternatives is important?

l Are you willing to put in the extra energy and effort to make these changes?

l How will you deal with those days when it seems that nothing works?

And, it then assures: If you have once used corporal punishment as a means of discipline, you are not alone; many teachers have only put away their canes or their wooden spoons since the introduction of the new legislation.

Many of them have found or are exploring viable alternatives, while others have unfortunately reverted to other means of control through fear and humiliation such as sarcasm, making pupils do degrading things such as wearing their underwear on their heads or a name tag like; "I am a stupid boy", hung around their necks.

These punitive measures still single out the pupil in such a way that she or he feels inadequate.

For most pupils this simply ends up denting their self-esteem even more, increasing their sense of alienation and in all probability entrenches their behavioural problems.

The Alternatives To Corporal Punishment Manual goes on to suggest that teachers:

l Establish discipline in their classrooms by implementing a proactive approach.

l Adopting a whole-school approach and ensuring that their classrooms' discipline reflects the school's policies - because discipline is not only a classroom issue, it impacts on the whole school as well as what is expected of them.

l Establishing ground rules, which may be re-evaluated periodically, as well as ensuring that everybody understands the logic behind each rule.

Teachers are also encouraged to:

l Be serious and consistent about the implementation of the rules - the rules should apply equally to everybody in the class.

l Being fair - because it is critical to a relationship of trust between teachers and pupils - by ensuring that any disciplinary action is carried out firmly but fairly.

l Know their pupils and focus on relationship building - like relationships of trust in which pupils feel respected, understood and recognised for who they are.

l Manage the learning process and the learning environment enthusiastically and professionally.

l Be inclusive - because leaving pupils out and not reflecting an understanding of their needs could alienate them.

l Give pupils the opportunity to succeed - as it as been said that success breeds success.

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