Looking into creative punishments

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 20 Jun 2017 12:27:06


By dr rachanna datey

Punishment has always been a very important feature of each and every system. In primeval times, the sole purpose of punishment was retribution. In some premodern societies, punishment was largely unkind or retributive, and its prosecution was left to the individuals who has committed offence or to their families. Such punishments bore no special relation to the character or gravity of the offense either in quantity and quality. Progressively there arose the idea of proportionate punishment, reflecting the dictum “an eye for an eye”. Ultimately punishment by individuals came under the control of the community; later, with the development of law and system, the State took over the punitive function.

However, in more modern societies the objectives of punishment include deterrence, retribution, incapacitation, rehabilitation and reparation. Through this article I will talk about the punishments and to be specific Creative Punishment Consequences in education system. There has always been disagreement over the moral principles that can justify its imposition. We can ask basic three questions in relation to punishment/consequences in education system.

The first important question is why punishments are needed? My second question concerns the necessary conditions for punishment in particular cases. The last and most important question that needs to be addressed is; what should be the form and severity of punishment. There have been never ending debates about punishment for students in education system, and they all are truly vital in their own right.

The students in collage become more independent, but they still lack the emotional maturity. This particular situation and the students in particular needs inputs and have to make informed and induced with thoughtful decisions. The parts of the brain that control decision making and impulse control are not in full control of these teenagers. The combination of autonomy and immaturity can lead to risky behaviors. We expect that, the students should always do the right things, but disciplining these energised teen students is not an easy game. Effective guidance to the students requires smarter, innovative and stronger discipline strategies. The goal of discipline in any educational institute is to gain more control over their students but it should be -- without being too controlling.

In simple words we can say –Punishment is the imposition of a penalty or deprivation for wrong doing. In other words, it is a penalty imposed for doing anything wrong and beyond the framework of rules and regulation. Punishment is not an exclusive area of the law. Parents punish their children, educational institutes punish their students and members of private associations punish their wayward fellows.

"Punishment" does not have rigid boundaries. One useful way to understand its fundamental aspects and uncertain borderlines is to recognise the features of typical instances of punishment, and to question how far their absence would lead one to say that something other than punishment is taking place.

The purpose of punishment is to change misbehavior and teach better decision making. Punishment is most effective when it is predetermined and planned. It is appropriate to punish a student within the boundaries of regulatory framework of the education institute as a consequence for inappropriate behavior.

This is to teach him /her how to display the desired behavior as well as it also creates a sense of doing wrong, accepting it and thereby improving or discarding the act or which punishment was imposed. Punishments should be disciplinary and not punitive. Positive discipline helps the students learn to efficiently solve problems and manage conflicts. Creative consequences (Punishments) can help education institutes to make realise their students the fundamental lessons of life and thus helping them recollect what they learned from these disciplinary actions/punishments.

Effective discipline helps the students to identify and draw the fine line between the RIGHTS vs WRONG Thus in the process they learn how to control their behavior and to act according to their ideas of what is right and wrong, not because they fear punishment. The purpose of punishment is to stop a student from doing what is not acceptable by the rules and regulations. This helps to build an understanding of obeying the rules and regulations which are framed by any educational institute after putting lots of efforts and there by identifying what is best for the institute as well as for the students. Main objective of any disciplinary action is to arouse the feeling self-actualisation and accepting the offence and the counter effects of the committing it. The whole process helps the students understand and to have a clear view of what is correct /right. The motto of any punishment should be –To helps the students learn self-control, build self-esteem and to set the examples of effective.

A true punishment is one that is seldom used because it is seldom needed. This is punishment's golden rule. Punishment should reduce the need for more punishment; it should decrease the misbehavior. If the misbehavior does not change, then the punishment is not working. Disciplining students always take wisdom, consistency, and empathy, a whole lot of love, and then, on top of all a good supply of patience. Educational institutes need a perfect blend of creativity in (punishments) consequences .i.e. they should opt for creative, unusual, discipline ideas. The purpose of using creative punishments and consequences is to help the student learn to make decisions and to be responsible for his own behavior. Creative Consequences are learning experiences, not harsh punishment. Here are some of these creative and unusual alternatives which any educational institute can adopt and apply.

Though Community service is a voluntary effort, teachers /educators can involve the students in community-service work as a result for disrespectful behavior of the offender. Community service teaches students to think about others by offering helpfulness and showing empathy. This teaches the offender how to be helpful and considerate in the deeds and actions and even the words.

Writing Essey/Articles/Poems
This is another form of creative punishment. If any student is misbehaving or has violated the rules and regulations of the institute then he/she should be instructed to write an essay/article or even a poem. The topics can be decided by the punishing authority. It is advisable to choose a topic which reflects the cause of offence as well as the circumstances under which it was committed. This gives an insight to the student and helps them to think over their wrong act and thus a sense of realisation can be aroused. This consequence is an exercise that allows students to reflect on why his/her behavior was inappropriate, and to consider some of the natural consequences that could have resulted from noncompliance with educational institute’s rules. Encourage students who are offenders to write down their ideas, as it can teach them to make better choices in the future.

Removal of Privileges
In some cases, removal of a privilege plays very important role as a punishment. Educational institutes provide many facilities to the students like library, computer labs, internet or Wi-Fi, canteen, mess, sports facilities etc. The student misbehaving can be punished by directing him/her that they are not allowed to use any one or some of these privileges for a definite period of time. This helps them to understand the value as well as importance of these privileges and they realise their mistake.

Practice Makes Perfect
Many a times the students do not complete the task which is assigned by the teachers within the time given to them, or in some other cases they do it partially. Concerned teacher should instruct such students to complete tasks effectively and that too in half the time. Even some additional assignments can be given to such students instructing them to finish within stipulated time frame. This consequence ensures that the student will not commit the offence again as if he does so he will be burdened with double the task and half the time to finish the same.

Enhanced Creativity
It means as a consequence of offence, teachers should identify the hobby/ies of the offender and then should be asked to continue with it more passion. For example if that particular student who has disobeyed or has broken the rules of institute is good in drawing/painting, then task can be given to him/her to make beautiful posters for the institute, some even displaying the rules therein. Likewise he will be well versed with the rules and regulations as well as will get deeply involved in the hobby and thus will be deviated from wrong doings and will realise the mistakes.

Punishments/consequences of any type should be used with due care and compassion. Here are few more interesting creative ways and ideas
l Ask the offender to teach in the class.
l Give some current topics and ask them to prepare a presentation on it.
l Tell them if they are found guilty for the same mischief or misbehavior next time, the consequences will be stricter.
l Instruct them, they are not allowed to commit same mistake or mischief .i.e. every time the mischief have to be different. It will enable them to think in positive manner and thus lessens down the unwanted behavior.
l Ask them to hug every tree in the campus.
l To check every classroom and switch off the lights and fans, clean the black/green/white boards.
l Take the rounds of campus running.
l Clean up the campus garden, rake the leaves.
l Plant some saplings, and take care of them.

The bottom line is, education institutes and teachers in particular have a big responsibility of understanding the students’ behavior correctly. They should strive hard to dig out the root cause of any undisciplined behavior adopted by students. Every student is unique, worthy and the best discipline for one student may not be appropriate for another. Creative punishments are strategic solution to offensive situations. Remind students, they have a purpose and remind them of this often. Give students responsibilities and get them well versed with the boundaries. Allow them to have consequences and to learn from them. Many a time’s tough conversations are necessary, but remember to be a listener too.

Letting students understanding the consequences of their decisions is a "hassle-free" way to discipline young people. They learn from experiences. We can call it learning the "hard way." He/she must understand that they have a choice and that they must accept the consequences of that choice. Administer the consequences in a firm but kind manner. In the process, the students learn that every act has a consequence for which he/she is responsible. Consequences make them responsible. The creative consequences are a means to make sure that, youngsters experience the penalties of his/her behavior, to make them realise their mistakes and thus they will be less likely to act that way again.

We as academicians and as education institutes as a whole; have great responsibility to keep finding ways to break through the walls of undisciplined behavior and put up some creative ways as consequences rather than calling it punishments. These creative consequences will nourish the offender/s and will surely divert their energies and thinking towards novel ideas and goals. Isaac Parker has quoted “The object of punishment is to --- Lift the man up, to stampout the bad nature and wicked disposition”.
(The author is Director – Quest Education and can be reached at [email protected]) n