New skin for the old ceremony

A discipline plan for teachers put out on curriki, a not for profit sharing site for teachers.

The plan reminds me of my early days in the 80s at Fenwick and Mt. Carmel, when, as a lieutenant in the Catholic young men army of the Archdioscese of Chicago, I had occasion to run into the defiant young men who disrupted the learning for others in class. As a French teacher, I loved to give conjugation penances, in which the misbehaving boy was required to copy out a number of times something he needed to know anyway. For some, at least, such rote copying yielded results–retention of morphological information.

With older French students, it would be a somewhat complex paragraph expressing the writer’s apology and remorse for the bad behavior. One of them went, “Puisque mes parents paient beaucoup d’argent pour que je puisse aller a cette bonne ecole, et puisque j’ai fait des betises dans la classe de M. Bendelow, et puisque je veux m’ameliorer, je ne vais jamais faire ces betises encore, je le jure.”

With my sophomore English classes, the boys who acted foolishly would receive assignments to copy a chapter or two from the book of wisdom, Proverbs, in the Bible.

Regardless of the text copied, when it worked, the ADD-lled teenage boy was mentally settled, his energy displaced if not sublimated. I tell myself that sometimes, after several repetitions, character education, perhaps the most important learning of all, took place. Yet, other times, I’m pretty sure, it probably made students more frustrated/angry, badly disposing them to learning.

I’m wondering–have you ever used a similar attenpt at character education giving out negative consequences for disruptive class behavior? To what effect?

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