Ending Punishment in Our Schools

Ending Punishment in Our Schools

By Festus Tandoh

teacher of Ananda Marga School, Lotus Children Center, Soko, Ghana

Issue41_Page_26_Image_1As we all know, handling a child is not easy, let alone a group of children. It takes someone with a lot of love, care and affection to take care of children without been hard on them since a child or two will definitely cause a problem.

In most schools in Africa (including Ghana), teachers are very strict with children. A child will not be spared for the least mistake he/she commits. The child will be severely dealt with by the teacher in a very bad manner which shows no love, care or affection. To mention a few examples:

  • a child will be caned roughly at even delicate parts of the body (head, back, palm)
  • a child’s food will be withheld and they will go hungry
  • a child will be made to squat for a long time to the extent of becoming very weak
  • use of harsh words on the child
  • disgracing the child before his/her peers

This practice goes a long way to have negative effects on the children rather than correcting them for the mistakes he/she committed. The child becomes dull, less courageous and feels shy and not happy to be in school; therefore whatever will be taught at the end of day becomes wasted.

As a teacher in a Neohumanist Education School, we want to teach the children how to love, show affection and care for both living and non-living beings. My colleagues and I, along with our headmistress, Didi Gayatri, met to derive a way to help bring out the best behavior in the children. We came to the conclusion that a brightly colored sticker will be pasted on a chart before the name of the child who behaves very well each day. At the end of the week the child with the most stickers before his/her name in each class will be called before the whole school and presented a very beautiful gift to take home (or if there is no gift available we paint their faces as a prize). As we all know children are attracted by brightly colored things so this came a long way to inspire each child to behave very well on a daily basis knowing that he/she is going to get something to take home at the end of the week. It also made teaching and learning easier since the children behave well now and are always happy to be in school.

I have already pointed out that it is improper to extort anything from students through undue pressure and intimidation. Intimidation appears to work to some extent, but it does not yield lasting results. Whatever students learn from their parents and teachers out of fear fades into oblivion as soon as the agencies of fear disappear. The reason is that their learning and their fear were inseparably associated, so with the disappearance of fear, the knowledge that they had acquired in the course of their education also disappears from the more developed parts of their minds. As soon as the bullying teacher leaves the classroom the students heave a sigh of relief. Within a few hours, whatever they had committed to memory starts growing hazy. Out of fear of failing their examinations students work hard, poring over books, and accomplish ten days’ work in one hour. But after completing their examinations and playing a game of football or visiting the cinema, they forget much of what they had learned, due to the absence of fear.
People in many countries throughout the world are painfully experiencing the detrimental effects of education through the medium of fear. Most educated people lose the abilities they acquired through education after they graduate from school or university and enter their field of work. If I were to assess the value of the education these people received, I would say that most of their time, ability and labour had been wasted or had been spent meaninglessly.
So as I was saying, it will not do to impart education through intimidation. A thirst for knowledge must be awakened, and, to quench that thirst, proper education must be given. Only then will education be worthwhile and develop the body, mind and ideals of the student.

Shrii P.R. Sarkar

“Sá vidyá yá vimuktaye - Education is that which liberates”