Enough is enough- it's time to stop taking bad advice about behaviour when children's futures are at stake
Years ago I waited tables in TGI Fridays, where they used to run competitions for staff to see who could sell the most sticky, smoky meat and goldfish bowls of margaritas. Until one day the good times stopped rolling and the managers decreed there would be no more. The reason? One of them had read a book: ‘Punished by rewards’, and claimed that it described how people shouldn’t be incentivised by something so gaudy as an incentive. The author was Alfie Kohn. Years later when I became a teacher I discovered his advice was following me around like eyes on a painting in Scooby Doo. Kohn has become one of the most influential writers in education. His books have found homes in libraries from Beirut to Bearsden. Sadly, rarely have trees been so needlessly pulped.
I frequently hear him described as a behaviour expert. But I find this strange, because surely one of the defining …
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Brace yourself: Tom Brown’s School Days are about to make a comeback. According to recent headlines, Ofsted have indicated they’ll soon be expecting schools to make like Bash Street and get medieval on their classes:
‘Ofsted backs return to old-school punishments’ thundered the Times. ‘Ofsted boss: give pupils lines, community service and detention for misbehaviour,’ gasped iNews. The Daily Mail, sensing blood in the water, put gas in the tank with ‘Ban phones in schools and bring back old-fashioned punishments like lines and litter picking, Ofsted chief demands,’ and it wasn’t clear if this made them happy it was happening or sad that it didn’t go far enough.
That was nothing. Half an hour before the Chief Inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman delivered a keynote speech at the Wellington Festival of Education this week, I appeared on a radio talk show. The host opened with, ‘So, Ofsted wants to bring back old punishments like the cane and the belt. Tom Bennet…
Every now and again a story about schools finds legs and I have to read it twice to understand if I’ve missed anything. Recently you might have seen a minor uproar as it was announced that ‘’schools are using isolation rooms to punish pupils as young as five years old’ and that this practice (‘dubbed barbaric’) is used ‘across the country.’ I’m certainly glad I was sitting down to read that ‘youngsters can remain there for up to one day,’ and I gasped to read that it was a ‘sign of an institution giving up.’(1)
I felt like I was taking crazy pills reading it, which was then picked u across a few more outlets, before exploding onto social media in a glorious firework display of ill-temper and scalp collecting.
Because using isolation booths is a perfectly normal, useful and compassionate strategy that is so common across the school sector that anyone expressing shock to discover it has, I can only assume, sent very little time actually working in a school. I can only imagine what they…