You say discipline, I say humiliation! by Guest Blogger, Kelli Gander


Sad little girl sitting in a cornerIt is no secret, teachers are like circus performers. They are  constantly juggling tasks, performing classroom magic, taming, orchestrating the show and entertaining and engaging a very tricky audience. All the while they do this they are also walking a very fine line between creativity and control, process and product, function and freedom.

That line will vary class to class and teacher to teacher. It will depend on personal philosophy, experience, training, skill sets and individual expectations but what happens when the line gets crossed, particularly when it comes to behaviour management of children?

I had a recent experience of this that was close to me. The teacher described her actions as discipline, I considered it humiliation. She said she was using a routine classroom strategy and I said she was shaming in order to achieve compliance. So where is that line?

I know for me personally, publicly shaming a child is never appropriate. Whatever short term gain the teacher may feel they have made is out weighed, considerably, by the emotional anguish and negative feelings the child suffers as a result.

I spoke to many adults, both friends and colleagues, who had stories of school day traumas that stay with them still, after being made emotionally vulnerable by a classroom teacher. Did it change their behaviour long term? Apparently no!

It would seem that research agrees. After a 3 year study by the University of South Australia, it is evidenced that exclusion and isolation of children is an ineffective means of affecting a change in student’s behaviour.
So why does it still happen routinely in our schools and why is it tolerated and considered acceptable? Perhaps not enough thought or attention is put into considering the rights of the child. That is not to say that the teacher should be left powerless but surely isolation, naughty chairs and public shaming are old and antiquated methods for our modern, emotionally intelligent and creative educators.

Surely we don’t have to make children feel bad about themselves in order to achieve a behavioural objective. Let’s use our powers for good, not as an emotional weapon to achieve a short term goal with possibly very long lasting emotional effects.
You say it’s discipline, l say It’s humiliation and I know my voice is not alone!


Why do we rob kids of power?

If you think back to your childhoods you will remember that one of the biggest frustrations was your lack of power. You were regularly told,” When you are older you can do that! When you are grown-up you can do this”, and so on. So basically as children we had very little power over decisions and choices, BUT and this is a very big BUT- as children growing up we took RISKS. (Often without parental knowledge!) We were able to take risks because we could actually escape from adult eyes occasionally. These risks gave us the chance to succeed, fail, learn, get hurt, learn resilience and generally toughen up and learn about the real world. We found out that some kids didn’t like us (even if we gave them our lunch), some teachers also didn’t like us (often for very good reasons) and that we needed to think, plan carefully (possibly scheming is a better word!) to get what we wanted.

Unfortunately many children now just ask for what they want and BAM the good fairy (parent) grants their wish or gives them the date their wish will come true.

They NEVER get to just hang out with kids. Play-dates are now the order of the day! Children are not allowed to dislike each other and have to settle all disputes by calm, well thought out adult procedures. (Children know much faster ways to settle these things!)

If they don’t do homework, teachers are told by parents (too stressful to make children tell the truth), “Aunt Beth unexpectedly came to dinner, he was ill and had to go to bed early, we ran out of time, it was too hard and so on. So what does the child learn?

1. I cannot settle my own problems- Mum must speak for me.

2. It is OK to lie and not be responsible for my own actions (or lack of!)

What are we REALLY protecting our children from? I can hear you all right now bleating on about stranger danger, harsh teachers, tired children ………..

Do you know that children who are over-protected are more likely to be bullied?

However, the fact is you are actually protecting them from the chance to learn, gain resilience, grow up, take risks, develop self confidence and above all have a healthy sense of I CAN and self-esteem.

I am not arguing for children to be allowed to do what they want. It goes without saying that children should be cared for, nurtured and given safe environments. Just remember to occasionally turn a blind eye and allow them to have a voice. We want our children to grow into honest, creative, thinking individuals with strong self-esteem and highly developed sense of self-discipline and responsibility.

Give them some power back! Get some other interests- your children are not your hobby, your handbag or bright, shining possessions. They are  unique gifts to the world and must be allowed a little air and freedom to breathe and learn!


Well-today was all about love for me and what a day it was!

The Beatles were not wrong- it IS all you need and if you love a few people and a few people love you, you are truly blessed.

I had my usual long Monday list of THINGS THAT MUST BE DONE and love intervened in many ways- a bit like a hungry, determined cat that will NOT leave you alone until you stop and feed it!

There were family members fed up with me, family members I was fed up with, people who needed my love more than I had realised and the pain and joy of dealing with it all. And, funnily enough, at the end of a day that still has 90% of tasks undone, it feels like the most satisfying, love filled, frustrating and yet worthwhile day ever. Indeed, a day to remind me to keep the main thing the main thing!

I’ve been reviewing our programs lately and reflecting on why kids do so well on only once or twice a week attendance and I am convinced it is also about  love. The small staff at ICE LOVE their kids and I delight in the cheerful giggles, happy noises and smiling faces I see every day. Looks like in education we also need to keep the main thing the main thing. The Beatles were onto something-love transforms, heals and brings us closer. It is just as necessary in education as it is in our personal lives!

Crazy Speak

Picture of Victoria Carlton       I was driving home today, listening to a psychiatrist talking about teenagers with mental problems-she stated we need to help young people develop normal mental trajectories. I’ve always considered a trajectory to describe the path of a moving object-how does it get used in this context? Why not say, “normal development” or “mentally healthy?”

There is so much of this “crazy-speak” around and it tends to fog real issues.

Take for instance these 2 disorders- CD- Conduct disorder and ODD- Oppositional Defiance Disorder!

Both the above conditions could more aptly be called NLFD- Needs Loving Firm Discipline!

More and more, professionals use language to elevate themselves and create divides between themselves and their clients.

This is insulting, insensitive and clearly unhelpful to the families and children who need the help of these ego bound professionals!


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