Discipline in the classroom: experts give advice

By Drum Digital
05 May 2014

Last week a British teacher was stabbed to death in her classroom by a 15-year-old learner. How can moms help their children’s school and teachers to maintain discipline in the classroom?

Last week a British teacher was fatally stabbed in class by one of her learners, a 15-year-old boy. Apparently the boy didn’t get on with the popular teacher, Ann Maguire (61), a Spanish teacher whose learners had dubbed her “mother of the school”.

How can SA moms help?

Could something like this happen in South Africa? Local teachers say discipline in the classroom is one of their biggest headaches. Can you as a mother help your children’s school maintain discipline?

Earlier this year, at the second South African International Emotional Intelligence Conference in Cape Town, YOU presented a panel discussion on discipline in the classroom where educational experts and psychologists shared ideas on how to tackle the issue of discipline in classrooms.

Sanette Nowers, a former principal of Hoër Meisieskool Bloemhof and Hoërskool Strand who’s a director of the Metro Central Educational District of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), says traditional detention no longer works. “School communities should rather focus on values,” she says.

Jeanette de Klerk-Luttig, a specialist in character education in SA schools, agrees. “We’re increasingly moving away from rules to looking at values,” she says.

Values can mean being proud of your work. Moms should motivate their children to believe it’s “cool” to work hard.

Should teachers control your child?

“It’s a fantasy and misconception that teachers can control children,” says Anthony Costandius, a psychologist and former teacher.

“But teachers needn’t give in when learners try to control them,” he says. “If a teacher wants to effectively apply discipline it’s important to understand the group dynamics in a class.”

Support for teachers

Brian Schreuder, deputy director general of curriculum and assessment management in the WCED, says the department is there to support teachers – including with the issue of discipline.

There’s a way to approach the discipline problem in schools that doesn’t involve a punishment mentality, he adds.

How do you solve the problem?

Quentin Newman, headmaster of John Ramsay High School in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town, has had years’ experience in so-called “problem schools”. On the Cape Flats they call him Mr Fix It – because he has straightened out so many of these schools.

Newman says teachers should be beacons of hope in their communities. “We can’t give up hope,” he says. “Teachers should be an example of the values they want to establish in their classes or schools.”

De Klerk-Luttig agrees. “The nature and quality of your relationships with your learners forms the greater part of your influence on them.”

Naturally moms should encourage the right attitude towards teachers at home. Your children will follow your example. If you respect their teachers they will most probably do the same.

? Shané Barnard

Extra sources: dailymail.co.uk

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