Posts Tagged ‘TAFE’

The Punishment That Used to Work but No Longer Does

June 18, 2012

When I was a child there was no punishment more feared than a suspension from school.  The idea that the Principal could at any moment call your parents to pick you up and take you home was enough to make any child think before breaking a rule. But times have changed and suspensions have lost their effectiveness. This is partly due to it being metered out for minor offenses such as answering back and rudeness and partly due to a change in parenting styles.

If my parents were given the call to pick me up early they would have been furious. They would have immediately sided with the school and grounded me at home. Nowadays, parents take their children’s side and embrace them rather than berate them. When the child returns to school after their suspension, it is common to hear them boast about being taken out for a coffee and spending the afternoon playing video games.

It is no wonder that a recent survey has labelled suspensions as ‘counterproductive’:

SUSPENDING students from school for bad behaviour is counterproductive, with students who have been suspended twice as likely to be excluded again in the next 12 months.

Research by Australian Catholic University professor Sheryl Hemphill found about 6 per cent of students in Years 6-8 have been suspended, rising to 12 per cent of Year 10 students.

“Kids who are suspended just keep getting suspended. It doesn’t stop the behaviour that resulted in the suspension, it almost sets them on a pathway more likely to lead to suspension,” she said. “The risk for students who are having trouble maintaining engagement and staying at school is that suspension starts to help them move out of school.”

As part of a series of reports on problems in our nation’s schools, The Australian has found that suspended students were 50 per cent more likely to engage in antisocial behaviour and 70 per cent more likely to commit a violent act in the next 12 months.

Professor Hemphill said the policy of excluding students from school as punishment for bad behaviour sent a mixed message: every child must attend school, except on some occasions.

“It’s so contradictory to everything else we’re trying to do,” she said. “We’re trying to keep kids in school longer, we know the positive benefits of keeping them connected to further study and training for employment.

“Suspension doesn’t fit with the current policy environment, a lot of which promotes connection with education, because suspension is potentially a way of cutting off students.”

The problem with scrapping suspensions is that it leaves teachers with fewer options in dealing with class discipline issues.

Click here to read about my post on teachers being stripped of the ability to give punishments that work.

The Stigma of the School Dropout is Sometimes Unfair

November 28, 2011

For some reason, society seems to have an issue with “dropouts” who choose a trade over completing high school.  Whilst I am not in favour of someone chosing to drop out without a legitimate Plan B, I highly respect people who make the choice to become plumbers, builders and electricians, even when it’s at the expense of finishing high school.

Australia’s Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, is right to push for the opening of trade schools in preference to virtually paying students off for completing school. School and University is not for everyone. There are teenagers much more adept at taking on a practical trade than writing essays, working through trigonometry problems and making sense of chemistry.

Paying students just to finish school (it’s the parents that get the money) achieves a lot less than it sounds. Often it doesn’t translate into higher education training and it doesn’t guarantee that there will be marked differences in the takeup of the dole.

Mr Abbott wants to investigate a return to the former Coalition Government’s scheme for technical high schools and school-based apprenticeships.

Mr Abbott declined to endorse a Labor Government election promise to pay families $4000 to help keep teenagers in school longer, saying the spending would have to be appropriately targeted.

“The other point I want to make is that it’s all very well keeping kids at school past year 10 but they’ve got to be the right kids being kept at school past year 10,” Mr Abbott told Sydney radio 2UE.

“A lot of kids would probably be better off in the long run leaving school at year 10 and getting an apprenticeship rather than staying on doing an academic or quasi-academic time at school when in the end it’s the practical trades that we need.

“I mean, one of the great initiatives of the Howard Government was to try to foster these school based apprenticeships to try to get back to a considerable extent towards, if you like, technical high schools.

“And I guess I’d want to carefully study this and make sure that the right kids are getting the money and that we really were keeping the right kids at school because if you’ve got the wrong kids at school it can end up like a glorified occupational therapy basically.”

He told reporters later: “It’s important that some kids stay at school and go on to university, it’s also important that other kids get a good technical education.”

I don’t like the “pigeonhole” mentality society seems to employ. Such thinking makes it hard for people to take different routes and make changes that are right for them. The popular opinion isn’t always the right one for the individual. All countries need active and educated members of society, but they also need good tradespeople.
School is not for everyone. If you have a passion for a trade, don’t hesitate, go for it!

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