Lesson 50: Punishment Should Not be Humiliation

Martin Luther said, 'We must beat the children but at the same time we must love them.' However, the schools nowadays are not as described.

When Shim's mother met me, she frowned and asked me, "How was Shim in the class? Was there any misbehavior?"

This girl has been cheerful and mingled well with her friends while having a good learning attitude. She did not seem to have any major flaws but just that she did not like it when people play a prank on her. Therefore, I was curious and asked, "What's the matter? Anything happened?"

Then I found out that Shim was being punished heavily by the school teacher. Her Bahasa teacher said that her writing was not nice so the teacher took a picture and put it into power point slide to show and as a warning to the class. (Oh my God! If I were her, it would be too shameful for me!)

Furthermore, her teacher threw her workbook hardly! to the floor in front of others, meanwhile scolding her for not being care enough in writing. Then, she had to put the workbook on her head and walked around in the classroom!

When I heard this, I was stunned. What was wrong? Why did the school turn out this way?

And then, (there was still another and then?!) Shim was being punished to stand outside the class with her hands holding her workbook over her head. That teacher did not allow Shim to return to her seat even when that teacher left the classroom. Shim was standing like a fool until the next lesson.

What a heartache! I am sure that her parents must be even more painful! Your own child was not being respected and was being left aside by the teacher after the punishment. This is totally a disregard of children's right.

Even though furious, Shim's parents still took a look on her workbook and checked with the classmates on the incident. I checked Shim's workbook as well. I would say that her writing was not very nice but it was not too fuzzy or illegible. Even if it were fuzzy or illegible, a primary school student should not be punished in this way.

Chinese proverb says, 'It is more effective when reward and punishment are given immediately after the actions', which serves as the two rules in education. You get reward or praises if you have done well, meanwhile you get punishment or consequences if you have not done well, which work quite well to both children and adults. However, do you really understand what is punishment?

Punishment, is the consequences that people get after they have done something wrong.

For instance, you get a summon of 300 dollars because you had violated the traffic rule. Feeling sorry for that 300 dollars which slip away in vain, you will remember this lesson and will not break the rules again.

Thus, punishment, also allow you to avoid mistakes.

Behavior psychologist, Skinner, found that animals learned to avoid danger through 'punishment'. It is the same for human, we learned through 'punishment' as well.

If 'punishment' were meant to lead people in learning and avoid mistakes, then think about it again, when we punish the students, does it really help the students to learn how to avoid the mistakes? Or does it just make the students to feel afraid of the punishment?

I remembered when I was young, my mother caned me whenever I made a mistake. The old generation believed that 'caning make an obedient child', 'teach the child a lesson will make him better', seemed to be rooted and fixed. There are even people who suggested physical punishment to discipline the students. Punishment is not so bad. Appropriate punishment can make people learn to be better. However, punishment should not be a humiliation.

If you were 7 year-old Shim who has not develop your 'nice handwriting', but were being punished, scolded in front of others, walked around in the class, stood outside the classroom with your workbook over your head, I think you will be crying deep inside your heart.

When dealing with someone that has a fault or something that should be fixed, if you handle him 'sharply' like handling him with a pen's pointed end, it would scared him, startle him and scare him (Joshua J). If we just want to use punishment to deal with the students, then punishment will become a tool to frighten the students. Education should be a channel for children to learn, not a channel to punish and hurt the children.

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