Problem Kids, Suspensions and Revolving Doors

There seems to be a consensus among our Principals that if a methodology is found to be fatally flawed, try it again until it works.

Handing suspensions to unruly students used to work – in the 80’s.

We are not in the 80’s anymore. Times have changed and suspensions are useless in the current climate. The pattern of suspending kids only to see them return to their old ways within days (if not minutes) is a reflection of how hopeless this strategy is.

So, when I read that eighty-nine British primary students aged between 5 and 11 are being suspended every day, I can’t help but ask – Is that mode of punishment working for you?

Around 89 primary school children are being suspended daily for attacking their teachers and classmates.

Youngsters aged between five and 11 were ordered out of the classroom each day for assaults, racial abuse and threatening behaviour in 2010/11, shocking statistics show.

In total,a staggering 850 children of all ages are given fixed term expulsions every day for assaulting or verbally abusing their classmates and teachers.

I love the expression ‘fixed term expulsions’ – it sounds like a bank transaction. I wonder what the interest is on it.

If this is the only approach Principals are willing to take the system is doomed to failure!

Click on the link to read The Solution to the Disruptive Student Has Arrived: Body Language Classes
Click on the link to read When Something Doesn’t Work – Try Again Until it Does
Click on the link to read Teachers Should Stop Blaming Parents and Start Acting




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3 Responses to “Problem Kids, Suspensions and Revolving Doors”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    It’s a symptom of a sick society and a sick education system that only thinks in terms of the stick and the carrot long after such an approach has lost it’s meaning. You can examine the symptoms and look for the causes and treat the causes or you can treat the symptoms. Without a commitment to addressing the causes of these problems we are left with treatment of symptoms; palliative care at best.

  2. Nick Says:

    It’s a troubling statistic and I’m sure Austalia’s would be equally appalling. However my real concern is with the impact suspensions, particularly long suspensions have on kids moving into High School. With boys in particular, we are suspending them from school and disconnecting them from their classmates, teachers and school environment right at the age (13/14) when they are looking for somewhere to BELONG. Unfortunately this means the cycle ends up repeating itself because the students end up with a sense that they don’t belong at school – therefore they look for somewhere else to belong ie: gangs, fellow drop-outs, other anti-social groups.

    I understand how suspensions for these kids works well for the teacher and the rest of the school – but the system is failing these kids so badly that it is making the problem WORSE.

  3. John Tapscott Says:

    I agree with Nick. These children who are suspended are disengaged from the learning process long before they get suspended. As long as their behaviour causes no problems for anyone else their needs are ignored. Unless we come to terms with the root causes of this epidemic we might as well flog them into submission with a stick as was done in the past.

    As a student, I was never suspended from school. However, on some days I was caned up to 3 times. I daren’t go home and tell my parents or I would have got more of the same at home. I hated school, yet I thought a lot of some of my teachers. Perhaps I should not have gone to school at all. But it’s compulsory.

    From where I stand now I can see that had I been a student these days I would have been diagnosed with something and medicated or specially educated. But neither is medication and special education the answer.

    The story of a rug seller is cautionary. One of his display rugs appeared to have a lump in the middle. He pushed the lump down with his foot, only to see it appear elsewhere. Every time he pushed it down, it popped up somewhere else. Finally he lifted the rug, only to discover a small snake under it, which was the cause of the lump. This story illustrates a structure, known in enlightened management circles as “shifting the burden”. It is somewhat akin to the ostrich putting its head in the sand.

    The point is that if there is a problem, there is a cause. These things do not occur in a vacuum. Moreover causes can be investigated and solutions can be found provided there is a will to do so. What goes today reminds me of a saying I heard when working in the steel industry. “There is no such thing as ‘it won’t fit’. All you need is a bigger hammer.”

    We don’t work on delicate machinery with a hammer but with pliers and screwdrivers. A hammer would destroy it. What makes people think it is any different with the minds and spirits of young children?

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