Teach English in Yangjiaotang Zhen - Yongzhou Shi

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Before trying to answer to this question, I openly declare that I’m against any type of punishment, in or outside the classroom. If it’s not for public security reasons and exercised from a court room or law enforcement agencies, the word punishment should stay out of the vocabulary of people, in general. Now, coming back to the above-mentioned question, I think that punishment demotivate the student. Coming from an ex-communist country, where in schools you could be subject to spanking, thrashing (as a physical form of punishment); to sarcasm, degrading in notes, and blame (as a moral form of punishment) I have witnessed demotivation and lack of will of my punished classmates to even come to school. My brother was subject to sarcasm from his teachers. As a result, from a student with maximum grades, he lost interest and will to study or go to school and ended his learning life at the 12th year in our country. To me, this was the most obvious relation between punishment and demotivation. On the other hand, I believe that punishment, under physical or moral form, damages severely the self-esteem not only of the actual student, but of the future grown individual. Persons having experienced the punishment as a corrective measure to unwanted behaviours in the classroom, when they are grown up, they may think that they don’t deserve to learn and progress in life, that they are not able to achieve anything good for them and for the society. While writing this Summative Task I was searching online for studies related to punishment and learning. I found out the Operant Conditioning theory developed by B.F Skinner. The operant conditioning is a way of learning by means of rewards and punishments. This type of conditioning holds that a certain behaviour and a consequence, either a reward or punishment, have a connection which brings about learning. Well, spanking a child who teases his sister hoping to correct this behaviour or forbidding a student to use the car because he was caught cheating in exam are not the best ways to correct that behaviour. I think that explaining, talking and communicating with that child/student would be the best way to correct that behaviour. Understanding is much better than being forced to obey. A teacher is more than just a teacher for a student. A teacher is also a role model, someone to trust and listen. If the teacher used coercive measure to reach to his teaching goals, he loses the aura of the role model, and the trust of the student. I think that after the punishment the behaviour might be corrected, but not because of the internal conviction. Punishment mainly has a cause-effect consequence, which is punishment-correction, but the emotional trigger is not the idea of improving, but the fear of being punished for a second time. I genuinely believe in communication as a bridge between the teacher and the student, in every situation. The teacher has a lot to win by keeping his cool and trying to talk to the student showing problems. Showing respect to the student, firstly as a human being and secondly as a learner, creates an environment of trust and growth. Improvement will come from understanding and appreciation. That’s why I have never used punishment as a tool in my class. Persistence, openness and communication never proved me wrong.