Friday, February 27, 2009

Recess Redux

Damn that last post of mine was somber! I think Crabmommy is officially LOSING HER MIND, my peeps. Maybe it's the endless chill of the Pac-NW; maybe it's the stress of our almost-about-to-be-maybe-probably-lost incomes-that-are-already-paltry to begin with...but the Crabmom clearly needs some major time on the tire swing. Seriously, when did I get to be so serious?

Don't know. Let's hope it doesn't last.

Thanks those of you who commented on the play deprivation/role of recess post. Elsewhere on the web where the thoughts of the Crabmom appear, I had a teacher remind me that the No Child Left Behind Act has put loads of pressure on teachers to get kids performing their little tushies off...and in many cases this has forced a shortening of recess. So sad, so counterproductive. Another teacher also mentioned that it can be hard to come up with alternative punishments that work to get troublesome kids to behave. In her experience nothing was more effective than depriving kids of recess because she said she had tried everything she could think of, and plum nothing else worked.

And I thought about this teacher and tried to put myself in her shoes. I imagine it must be quite tricky to discipline kids in the classroom these days, especially as even when kids' parents ARE involved and interested, few of these kids are properly disciplined by their indulgent "pussyfoot-around-my-darling's-self-esteem" parents. Really, how do you run a classroom effectively when few kids are taught any sort of real respect for their elders? So let's just say you're presented with a naughty, impish grade-school tyke who is really hampering your ability to teach. I guess if you're going to be PC and fit into our culture in mainstream America, you as the teacher must beg the child to behave (using lots of pleases and thank yous, as we do to kids nowadays) and offer positive incentives for every negative behavior. But what if the little troll is still awful and rude and won't listen even after you've dangled prizes and packs of smiley face stickers in his face? What then?

Really, what are teachers to do to effectively discipline kids who don't behave properly? Add more homework? Keep kids after school? (Most stay after school anyway, don't they?) I think we need to put our heads together and figure out alternative punishment systems for kids who would otherwise be denied recess.

Here are mine:

  • force girls to wear an Amish bonnet during recess (thereby humiliating them around their friends while still preserving all-important playtime)
  • force boys to play clapping games with the girls during recess (see above)
  • force macho boys to build a Waldorf-y fairy nest using twigs and acorns (ditto)
  • force girly girls to engage in extensive pirate battles complete with rambunctious stabbing noises and duels with sticks (you get it)
  • force boys and girls to do hard, manual, outside work during recess--weeding of school garden, scrubbing of walls, mowing of school lawn (that's if the free play punishments don't work)
That's all I could come up with so far. But I'm quite pleased with my list. It includes what I think are primary and effective tactics for disciplining children: the use of humiliation and child labor. And recess with its all-important outdoor, rambunctious, free-range possibilities remains intact! Somebody just hire me already.

What do you think teachers should do to punish kids for bad behavior? Any teachers out there? What really works for you? Positive reinforcement stuff or punitive stuff?

16 comments:

mommyknows said...

I think the Amish bonnet would work just as well if not better on the boys.

Forget the sticks, nothing is allowed to be fashioned into a weapon in this day and age. God Forbid! Straight to the school counselor for the faux-weapons set.

The Mother said...

Oh, you hit that one on the head, with a stick.

All fantastic ideas will be immediately vetoed by the child empowerment people. 'Cause we can't mess with a kid's self esteem. Even if they really shouldn't have any.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Here's what I think could be the best deterrent/punishment for any kid:

Dodgeball.

Jannie Funster said...

I think respect is the word at any age. And of course, it depends on the child's age. They generally got gooder with time, until the inevitable teen years.

Crabmommy said...

mk,
you are so right about the bonnet for the boys! but of course! I think I'll have to go in and amend that list.

Anonymous said...

I have been a teacher and school administrator a LONG time. The only thing that works is when the parent is on board...and when that's the case, the kid's behavior isn't all that bad to begin with. The really bad kids have parents who WILL NOT...
-set boundaries
-pay attention to them
-make them take responsibility
-support teachers

So, bad new crabmom. Those kids pretty much don't get better.

Anonymous said...

that's "bad news", not bad new...
sorry for the typo...

tonypark said...

At the school I intended, St Maquis de Sade, the Brothers favoured group punishment.

When one child misbehaves everyone in the class should be made to wear the Amish Bonnet (in the olden days, we all got hit).

During recess all the good children will sort out the miscreant. It's called the Lord-of-the-flies approach.

tonypark said...

I meant attended, not intended. Sorry! Please, CM, not the bonnet...not the bonnnnetttttttt!

LinaBean said...

The school labor sounds good. No kid wants to do crap like that.

Patois said...

At our Ukranian Catholic School we would have to kneel at the window of our classroom while the other kids played outside so we could watch them play and suffer like Jesus did on the cross....it had very little effect. I still ended up being a "bad kid"

If there were more kids there with you to suffer we goofed off. The things nuns come up with...

I agree with LinaBean they could sweep up a sidewalk of just wash the outside of the school. At least they will get some outside time.

mommyknows said...

@tonypark -- hahaha

Put the bonnet on him CM!

RYD said...

Crabmommy, you and I are kindred spirits. (And my youngest daughter's face in photos matches yours, btw - I am convinced she, too, will be a Crabmommy). A friend (and reader of my blog, A Reluctant Mom, http://areluctantmom.blogspot.com, suggested I check yours out. I did, and I have one question: were we separated at birth? It's a pleasure to meet you, my fellow Reluctant Mother. :0)

AnnDeO said...

I don't agree with anonymous that "these kids" don't get better. My son only had problems being kept in for recess in third grade. It was a bit of a clash with him and the teacher, but after working through it we were able to come to a solution. Oh I do like the bonnet idea, especially for the boys.

Crabmommy said...

Okay, its bonnets all around for the boys! And RYD, welcome!

foolery said...

I come from a long line of teachers and administrators. There were several brilliant punishments I grew up hearing about -- none of which harmed the child in any way but none of which could be done today.

I won't burden you here because this comment is long enough and I have to fact-check with some relatives, but I think you just gave me a post idea. I'll let you know -- thanks!

-- Laurie