Saturday, April 10, 2010
"'Do what I tell you to do because I'm the boss' isn't the way the world works anymore."
Kids at the Innovations Academy learn the new way.
The method flies in the face of traditional school discipline. Child psychologists typically fall into two camps: Behaviorists believe in using punishments and rewards to train kids to follow directions from adults. Humanists deride them as bribes; they argue for building relationships with children to respect others' needs. David Strahan, a Western Carolina University education professor who has studied discipline, said most educators have only experienced a traditional classroom in which adults have control. It's more familiar -- and it can be much easier for a nervous teacher to handle.
Humanists have an uphill battle to convince others that their methods will work, said R.T. Tauber, professor emeritus of education at Pennsylvania State University. "To the uninformed, it sounds like you're turning over the institution to the inmates."
As schools across California try to curb detentions and referrals, "positive discipline" is the zeitgeist. But educators don't even agree on what that means or what it entails. Few are trying anything as bold as Innovations, where discipline falls at the far end of the humanist spectrum. Experimenting is easy because it's a charter school, free from school district and many state rules.
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