Sunday, April 15, 2007

Labour's softy softy approach to school discipline won't work

Thirty years ago, school kids would routinely get knocked about by their teachers for the slightest misdemeanor. Whilst I'm pleased to say those days are long gone, it seems to me that the pendulum has swung somewhat the other way.

Apparently, the "experts" now think the occasional telling off might cause psychological harm to our kids. Labour's latest guidelines advises teachers to praise pupils five times more than they criticise them regardless of their behaviour. Teachers should also take into account a child's cultural background before remonstrating with them or punishing them. It all sounds predictably touchy feely multiculti let's-sound-tough-but-not-stigmatise-anyone rhetoric that we have become accustomed to under New Labour.

I don't have a lot of experience of working with kids except for a stint at a summer camp in New England, but the one thing I learned was that kids have a good deal more respect for you when you put down boundaries, you win no rewards by trying to be their "friend". It's a lesson I learned in eight weeks, Labour still haven't learned it after ten years.