Just what is going on?

Has anyone done a study on the origins on the school culture of punishment? I have Alfie Kohn’s Punished By Rewards but haven’t read it. Maybe he’ll talk about it in terms of what the behaviorist approach to discipline was reacting againt. Most teachers, though, seem to think that people learn b/c they are rewarded and will do better if they are punished……. everyone except them, that is. THEY learn for the sake of learning, for the love of knowledge; but the rest of us shlubs prefer to screw off, mouth off, shilly-shally and dilly-dally, anything but learn.

My first impulse is to look at the personalities of the teachers. How many of them (notice I’ve switched to ’them’ as opposed to ’us’) were goody-goody two-shoes type students, always eager to please the teacher, always ready with the perfect homework? I’ve noticed the look on the face of teachers when I mention that I was not a good student and really didn’t care that much about doing assigned work. Because I loved to read, the work in everything except math and science came pretty easy to me. But their reaction is to my oppositional stance. I think it truly shocks them.

Which makes me think teaching may be an interitance from the medieval guilds or religious orders demanding conformity and obedience. How else explain the huge discrepancy in the time spent on how to teach and the time spent on how to punish? Could it be that they remember the kids who were insouciant in the face of their mighty struggles to satisfy the teachers and they still resent it?

No matter how silly these ramblings may seem, I don’t think many people will find my observations that far from reality. Anyone who has sat through the endless department meetings where teaching methods and positive approaches to students are given short shrift while detailed arguments are advanced for how many points to deduct for this or that infraction of teacher expectations can wonder with me just what is going on.

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