The Learning Renaissance

Calm the Chaos: Beneath the Surface of Misbehaviour


Reproduced with the kind permission of: Calm the Chaos

It has been noted elsewhere that in their absence of choice and compliance culture, the use of uniform and uniformity, schools share many of the organisational features of the penal system.

Tremendous amounts of effort is dedicated in schools to the management of behaviour.  Discipline is seen as an end in itself and a parallel structure to the key learning purpose of the school is often established to manage it as if it were a separate concern to student learning.

For the able and conforming child school can be a haven in which to flourish. For the child who is struggling and demonstrating in their behaviour that they are not coping, the aberrant behaviour quickly gets picked up as a behavioural, rather than a learning issue and escalating disciplinary sanctions are put in place until the cost to the child of not conforming to expectations are made so high that they conform, or the nature of the non compliance is such as exclusion procedures are invoked.

I once pretty effectively talked myself out of a Headship in an inner city school by replying that I was not a fan of discipline in schools. I left a pregnant pause to let the statement sink in and then embarked on a rational and, if I might say so, a well reasoned analysis of why we needed to recalibrate schools to promote self-discipline and make it core to the learning experience of every student, ensuring that opportunities were placed in the curriculum for students to demonstrate and be rewarded for showing self discipline and maturity. It was lost on the governors who were hoping I would knock the pupils into submission with an iron hand.

I recognised how far away from their ideas I was when the chair of governors, in his feedback, claimed that they had found my ‘exceptionally modern ideas’ on behaviour management in schools ‘very interesting’. I don’t think I have ever had more damning feedback!

However, addressing behavioural issues reactively, and away from an exploration of which factors were triggering them, either in the personal circumstances of the child, or in the situational dynamics of the classroom, playground or personal interaction, will do nothing to prevent ‘poor behaviour’ being a recurrent and costly feature, eroding effective learning in schools. We need to look below the surface of the exhibited behaviour to find the causes and remediate the real issues.





About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world. My books, Future Proof Your School and Re-Examining Success together with this blog, explore how better learning outcomes for all can be achieved.

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