Punishments and rewards do not motivate students.
That’s the view of the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC) and explains why the group is asking BCCPAC to help ensure schools don’t use co-curricular and extra-curricular activities as sticks and carrots.
“Participating in these activities should be the right of every student,” VCPAC says in a resolution to be debated at the BCCPAC annual general meeting May 31 – June 1. “These activities should not be considered privileges and should not be used as punishments or rewards.”
VCPAC president John Bird said no student should be excluded from school outings – such as field trips or ski days – as punishment for bad behaviour. Those special activities might be the student’s only connection to school, and excluding him or her would have a deleterious effect, he added.
“We now know that punishments and rewards don’t generate learning. They generate compliance.”
Instead of using coercion, educators should find out what motivates students and what will improve their connection to their schools so they don’t drop out, Bird said.
His views are supported by the Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative (CSRI), directed by Stuart Shanker, a York University professor, and Mike McKay, the former Surrey superintendent who was recently appointed as special adviser to Education Minister Peter Fassbender.
The CSRI promotes the position that students learn better when they are capable of emotional, physical and intellectual self-regulation. In simple terms, that means the ability of children to deal with stressors, soothe themselves and resume the task at hand.
A similar program, developed by Goldie Hawn and introduced in several B.C. schools some years ago, is called MindUp.
In an article titled Calm, Alert and Happy, Shanker offered the following description of self-regulation:
“For a long time, the prevailing idea was that you can get a child to do what you want by using punishments and rewards; but the more these behaviour management techniques have been studied, the more we’ve come to recognize that not only is this very draining on the adults who have to play the role of disciplinarian but, as far as the child is concerned, they often don’t work very well and in too many cases they can actually make things worse. Self-regulation, on the other hand, represents an attempt to understand the causes of a problematic behavior and then mitigate those causes, rather than simply trying to extinguish the behavior.”
To find the precise wording of the VCPAC resolution, and a space for comment, click here.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and information presented here does not represent the views of the organization.