Spar­ing the rod

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE -

Guess what? It doesn’t spoil the child... THeRe’S been a photo cir­cu­lat­ing the In­ter­net, which seems to be a memo from the Min­istry of ed­u­ca­tion to teach­ers in­form­ing them what kinds of pun­ish­ments they are not al­lowed to mete out to stu­dents.

now for a lot of people, es­pe­cially those from older gen­er­a­tions, the list might seem ridicu­lous. Pretty much all forms of phys­i­cal pun­ish­ment are not al­lowed.

Ac­cord­ing to the list, you can’t make a stu­dent run around a field, stand on a ta­ble/chair, stand out­side the class­room for too long or even do the “clas­sic” ear squat. “Men­tal/emo­tional” pun­ish­ment such as cut­ting a stu­dent’s hair, em­bar­rass­ing a stu­dent in front of a crowd or “berleter” (nag­ging) aren’t al­lowed ei­ther.

univer­siti Malaya con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist and se­nior lec­turer Dr Muham­mad Muhsin Ah­mad Za­hari, how­ever, be­lieves it is a cru­cial step to­wards bridg­ing the gap be­tween stu­dents and ed­u­ca­tors.

Some people be­lieve that stu­dents these days are be­ing spoiled. What do you think?

Times change. Stu­dents have evolved. Their ma­tu­rity lev­els are dif­fer­ent, and the way they re­act to pun­ish­ment is dif­fer­ent. So it doesn’t make sense for us to use the same ap­proach we did back in our time.

Phys­i­cal pun­ish­ment is sim­ply not an ef­fec­tive way to cor­rect be­hav­iour any more, and it’s not the fault of the stu­dent. They are grow­ing up in such a dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment with the In­ter­net and ac­cess to so much in­for­ma­tion.

In that case, what should teach­ers do?

Teach­ers might have good in­ten­tions to cor­rect the stu­dents’ be­hav­iour, but the most im­por­tant thing is how stu­dents per­ceive the teacher’s ac­tions. If they per­ceive the teacher’s meth­ods as bad, then you won’t achieve your ob­jec­tive of cor­rect­ing their be­hav­iour.

Teach­ers need to be equipped with knowl­edge on the psy­cho­log­i­cal ap­proaches you can use to rem­edy bad be­hav­iour.

If teach­ers per­sist with phys­i­cal pun­ish­ment, how would it af­fect a stu­dent now?

If the stu­dents are in­tro­verts, they would prob­a­bly keep (the neg­a­tiv­ity) to them­selves. They prob­a­bly won’t want to go to school, or they might be­come un­happy at school.

But if they’re extroverts, the stu­dents might project the same phys­i­cal pun­ish­ment on other stu­dents, or even the teach­ers.

Do you feel this is a tran­si­tional phase?

I think so, yes. Times are chang­ing very quickly, but we have teach­ers who were trained in the 80s, for ex­am­ple, who would have used phys­i­cal pun­ish­ment, and the par­ents didn’t mind ei­ther.

There are so many opin­ions on this, but like it or not, we have to ad­just and re-look at the way we deal with stu­dents.

univer­siti Malaya con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist dr Muham­mad Muhsin ah­mad Za­hari be­lieves phys­i­cal pun­ish­ment sim­ply doesn’t work with stu­dents to­day - and it’s not their fault.

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