Teach English in Zhongbao Zhen - Enshi Tujiazu Miaozu Zizhizhou

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The subject of punishment is very close to my heart as my schooling was fraught with violence and fear. The teacher was always pacing up and down with a cane in his hands around the classroom or had the cane on the desk. When the teacher wanted to know how his students were doing with the study lesson assigned for the day, he would make us all to stand up next to a big, blackboard on the wall, then he would proceed to ask a question relating to the lesson starting with the first student on the line and if the student did not know the answer or gave the wrong one 'hell would break loose'. He would slap, kick, punch or verbally abuse the student. Then he would ask the next student following with the same treatment, unless the student gave the correct answer, of course. This pattern would continue until the last student so if you had forgotten the answer before it was your turn due to fear of knowing what was going to happen to you or you did not know the answer, you would pray to whatever god or thing you believed in to put the answer in your head, so by the time the teacher asked you a question from the lesson you would know the answer, otherwise, you knew what was coming! By the way, crying before the teacher asking you the question would not help either! Needless to say, my schooling experience, physical and verbal abuse has taught me that punishment does affect student's motivation without any doubts, so much so, that even though my parents were told by the teacher that I was a good student and that they should put me to study a career at university. I never went. Why not? Unfortunately or fortunately I had enough of studying in fear and receiving physical and verbal abuses every time I did not perform as well as the teacher expected. Besides that, my parents were quite poor financially to afford to put me through university in any case. I firmly believe that physical punishment influenced by fear distorts a student motivation to learn and this pattern has been reflected throughout my life. There seems to be a deep underlying fear of failure in a student's psyche that comes to the surface when exposed to tests or exams in the future due to have been received corporal punishment, verbal abuse and humiliation at school as a child. Punishment can really destroy a student's confidence and bring an attitude of despair when confronted with further challenges in the student's learning path. Students who are physically and emotionally abused develop anxiety that causes loss of concentration and poor learning. I am not saying that punishment shouldn't be exercised but certainly not physical, and least of all, in the classroom. Research has also shown that the behaviour of the teacher profoundly influences student's motivation and learning. In many schools around the world, especially some cultures, still advocate and resort to corporal punishment to motivate students. But studies over the years have indicated that this practice of punishment results in reduced student's motivation towards learning. There is no doubt whatsoever that punishment creates fear to students. Punishment is an area of concern for schools and school officials because it has been found to have a negative impact, not only in student's academic performance but also in student behaviour towards further education. The teacher who enforces punishment may be avoided by the student and the student may develop an aversion towards, not just the teacher, but to the education system in general. So how can we go about teaching without resorting to punishment to the student but generating student's motivation and increasing learning input without inducing fear? Could this be a million dollar answer? There could be some answers and ways that teachers can motivate their students without having to resort to punishment, at least, corporal punishment. Firstly, teachers should embrace this saying: 'Do not do to others what you wouldn't like others to do to you.' In other words, if you were a student now, would you like your teacher to punish you every time you make a mistake or you don't perform well according to the teacher? I guess not! So why doing that to the students, especially the most vulnerable, children? If parents and teachers try to modify their children's behaviour by inflicting pain, then those children are likely to do the same to others when they want to influence other people's actions. Children are just small adults and the future of this world. There will never ever be any justification in corporal punishment to discipline them. The use of verbal methods of discipline through explanation and reasoning are likely to be much more effective and provide more cognitive stimulus than the use of corporal punishment. Employing praise, giving encouragement and rewards will also bring more motivation to students than the use of fear through punishment. Compassion and understanding should also be qualities embraced by the education system and spread among the teachers so students are better understood and taught in the classroom. As a conclusion of the subject of this essay: Does punishment affect student's motivation? The answer is unanimously YES, it does, but in a negative way. So, another question raises up: Should punishment be administered to encourage student's motivation? And the answer to this question will always be an absolute resounding NO.