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How To Improve Discipline In Schools


Date Posted: 9/14/2018 5:47:50 PM

Posted By: TutorNjue  Membership Level: Bronze  Total Points: 52

Improving discipline in school
Discipline in various learning institutions is among the factors parents consider before enrolling their children in a particular school. This is especially the case for parents whose children are adolescent or will be joining high school very soon. Have you ever considered if you are the principal of a high school whose discipline is deteriorating and already has a bad reputation on how the students conduct themselves? What measures would you take to improve the discipline? Nevertheless, you might be a parent and your child is in such a school, think of how you could help instead of blaming the school’s administration for failing to discipline the students. Changing the students’ behavior is easy, but the question is, how do you go about it?

Let’s begin by understanding how a child, especially an adolescent, cultivates new behavior. Adolescence can be understood as the transition stage from childhood to adulthood. It is during this stage that adolescents experience psychological and physical changes. As children, they were idolized and they received much attention and love from parents, elder siblings and anyone who they interacted with. However, as they reach adolescence stage, they feel that they need to be independent and want to gain self-identity. They no longer want to be perceived as little children who need the love and attention because they cannot take care of themselves. They want to be responsible for their actions but keep this in mind, they were once kids, and therefore do not know how to do things.

Psychologists are aware that one of the factors that guide human behavior is the principle of social proof. People tend to look to other people if they don’t know what the proper behavior is, especially in an unfamiliar environment or situation, as

a means of guiding their actions. They don’t want to do things that are socially unaccepted, bad or weird. This principle has also been used for a long time by marketers to sell their products and services. Let’s have a look at the following example, a customer who wants to buy a phone for the first time sees an advert of an expensive mobile phone sold by a new shop in town at a 10% discount. He thinks it is a good deal before the offer expires. On the same day, he sees another advert though by a different shop, (assume the name of the shop is Y), selling the same brand of mobile phone but doesn’t offer a discount. However, the advert at shop Y had supplemented the mobile phone price with this tagline: Shopping at the most renown shop in mobile technology just got better! Billions served. He further sees a bunch of customers in line waiting to be served as they try to select which phone to purchase. The customer decides to buy the mobile phone in shop Y because he thinks that the reason why many people are buying from there, is because they sell quality phones. What makes this principle work is that many people believe that popular is good. This is not different from how adolescents pick up new behavior in school. They tend to imitate their peers and in the long run, change their character.

Indiscipline in schools can exist as long as parents and teachers fail to realize why their children decide to pick up wrong behavior. One of the dangers of seeking social proof is that people might pick up the wrong behavior just because it is considered normal. Many people are doing it, so it feels right, doesn’t it? When students begin to develop such an attitude, they tend to think they are being responsible. At first, imposing tough strict rules will probably not work, but they are important in guiding the students’ conduct. Remember, these are adolescents, who think they can control themselves, so doing anything that will make them feel like being controlled causes more defiance. Everybody does, why not me?

A problem well put is half solved, now that we have known this, then let’s figure out the next half - improving discipline. As Swahili proverb says “Dawa ya moto ni moto," when translated into English it means the remedy for fire is fire. You can use the same principle of social proof to improve discipline. In almost every school, senior students influence the other students’ behavior because they are imitated. As a principal, changing the behavior of the whole school all at once can be impossible, but changing the behavior of a certain group of students, especially the senior ones, can change the entire school. Let's have a look at the following example: A principal in ABC high school in the United States decided to have a change in leadership to improve the school's discipline. It was the top performing students who were appointed leadership positions, but this time, he decided to appoint the most notorious student, Michael, to be the student leader. He was popular in the school and had many followers. The teachers felt that the principal did not make the right decision and that they were not consulted on the issue. On the other hand, Michael’s friends felt that they would do anything mischievous and go unpunished because they had Michael to defend them. With this position, Michael knew he would never be suspended or punished, as student leaders were not supposed to. However, the principal made it clear to him that he should change his behavior, or otherwise, he will be punished like the rest of the students and worse, lose his leadership position. Michael wanted that position but did not change his behavior. It was then that one day he was caught bullying a junior student by the principal, and as punishment, he was asked to wash the school’s corridor. It was such an embarrassment for him as a student leader to do the punishment as junior students watched him. The junior students teased him because they hated him. To maintain his position, Michael thought it best to try to impress the principal by behaving in a good manner. He convinced his friends that if they have to keep enjoying his leadership position, they should remain unsuspicious of any mischievous behavior and seem to have changed their bad behavior. The rest of the students thought that the seniors decided to be well behaved and focus on academics. They too began imitating their seniors by acting good and being well mannered. Whenever a junior student was caught misbehaving, Michael would take him forward to the school's authority, so that the principal would think he was doing his job well. Once the principal realized the trick he used was working right, he introduced new strict rules and regulations, and under Michael's authority, everyone would follow them. After all, Michael was their age mate, so he did not impose rules the way a parent or teacher would do, but it worked in the long run.

To understand what happened, the principal understood the kind of influence social proof has on guiding crowd behavior. He knew that the students’ bad behavior was because the senior students were not well behaved and that they were imitated by almost every other student. It is then that he decided changing the seniors’ behavior would improve discipline in the school. He also knew that in every leadership, the subjects tend to imitate the leader’s behavior through observation.
There are various ways to improve discipline in learning institutions, but the means you intend to use depends first on understanding the root cause of indiscipline in schools, as well as the age of students. How you impose discipline in college students will not obviously work in a primary school, and vice versa.

Next: Study of Language Change and Its Causes
Previous: Scoring Good Grades in Secondary School

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