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23 November 2004: Duct Tape and Other Disciplinary Measures (2 of 3)

So, the discussion on the radio ensued. Where the disciplinarians out of line? Most people (in my observation, and in the poll on say no. It seems that parents spend so much of their time expecting teachers and administrators to control their students' behavior that the public is willing to validate these instances of discipline. Teachers do what they have to do. If the students were following the rules, these things wouldn't have happened. These are the arguments in favor of duct tape.

I think there are two perspectives that might illuminate the situations a bit. First, the humanist. Imagine yourself back in middle school. Do you remember how fragile your self esteem was? Do you remember how important it was to look right and act in ways that will garner peer approval? It is as if your very existence hinges on these two things. And nothing could crush your image faster than being embarrassed by an adult.

Could anyone argue that the adults in these examples didn't think that their actions would result in humiliation of their students? Is it possible that it didn't cross their minds? Or, is it more likely that their "this will teach them," attitude was couning on it? Is it possible that these adults were fully aware of the power of peer relationships to their students, and that they were manipulating these peer relationships to their own ends? Embarass that kid for sagging his pants today, and he'll wear a belt to school tomorrow--who cares what other consequences may be?

teaching quote of the day

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.

- Chinese proverb

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