It’s true! Sometimes, some of us do know what we’re talking about!
Our book, “Voices Matter,” consists of people’s thoughts and opinions. When it came to the topic of youth violence, one of our members was quoted thusly (on page 48):
“If we’re looking for long term answers to the issue of youth violence, I think we need to demand more from our schools. Because children spend so much time at school, that’s where they can build their self-esteem, nurture their skills, develop their minds.”
“The school has a child for six or seven hours a day, ten months a year, and that’s a big chunk of time that can be used to counteract negative influences.”
That’s easy to say, coming from a layperson (and he knows who he is).
So take a look at what an expert has to say:
“Whatever he’s going home to, you can do the kid a heck of a lot of good six hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year … We tie our hands behind our backs when we focus primarily on things about which we can do nothing.”
The expert is Ross Greene, an American psychologist who has developed a disciplinary method that is the subject of an article in this month’s Mother Jones magazine (link posted at the end of this article).
The premise is simple: when a child mishaves, talk with him/her to figure out the reason(s) behind the behavior. Once it’s pinpointed, work with the child to develop alternative ways to deal with it next time. Sometimes, it’s no more than a child acting out because of hunger. The solution? Give them a snack.
When the child gets to discover the motivation behind their action, and develop a plan to modify it, they are rewiring their brain to act differently in the future.
This goes contrary to the belief that the only “reward” for misbehavior is punishment, but it’s tough to argue with results.
Two juvenile detention facilities adopted Greene’s methods, over the objections of staff. Both institions saw a dramatic decline in incidents, injuries (to staff and youth), and recidivism (youth returning to the institutions).
The article goes on to show how this method is working in a Maine classroom. Spoiler alert: it’s working quite well.
Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help think that this method might be useful in our own schools. How are the schools dealing with disruptive behavior now? Doesn’t this method seem like it could produce better results?
Comments are welcome!
Here’s the link to the article: