0163: A response regarding “An insidious idea behind classroom management.”
#education #SOSchat #dialogue
Note: I’ve chosen to reblog this interaction for clarity, and I’m embarrassed to say a bit of vanity, as the response I provided was not formatted in an appealing way, and I am away from my computer, composing from my phone. Up front, I’d like to thank positivelypersistentteach for the response, and for forcing me to refine my ideas.
“I think you have a misunderstanding of what classroom management entails.
In my classroom, classroom management includes rules, which we as a class agree upon.
It includes positive phone calls home, complimenting the students that are following directions, and providing time for students to calm down if they are upset about something.
Classroom management is providing routines and procedures, so we can focus on learning.
Classroom management is teaching students to think about how their actions affect others and to take responsibility for what they do.
Classroom management is teaching students to use their words, their minds, instead of their hands.
I think you have a lot more to learn about classroom management. Discipline is not a synonym for classroom management. Does is it include discipline? In most classrooms it is necessary, but aren’t there also consequences in the outside world? Discipline isn’t the whole of classroom management, and it is not an evil thing.”
I very much agree with you about your definitions of classroom management. You speak of the ideal, and I’m pleased that you are able to work in such an environment that the practice you share is the norm. Further, I agree that there should be a clearer delineation between what is known as discipline and classroom management. Or, maybe they should each be defined with less ambiguity. Unfortunately, they, like all words and phrases that are applied to human interaction, are subject to myriad interpretations based on political, cultural, regional, social, etc. factors. What you and I may understand as an appropriate way to manage a classroom may not be accepted by fellow teachers, administrators, some community members. My experiences certainly don’t speak for all of education, nor do they the regions and cultural climates in which I’ve taught. But, there are numerous schools, not all, across the country that implement such practices.
However, in this article I made little mention of any specific practice. I simply shared an idea that has roots in forms of social control. The Servan’s idea: “…When you have thus formed the chain of ideas in the heads of your citizens, you will then be able to pride yourselves on guiding them and being their masters…” uses antiquated language, but it was a part of the spawning of disciplinary practice that would work with minimal overt intervention. The idea is to transfer the locus of control to the individual, but through external means of training, conditioning, and forms of teaching. Teaching can be considered in multiple forms. One form aims to enlighten and liberate; the other works to control and suppress. Both veins have existed for centuries and each are present in our current understandings of teaching, learning, management and discipline. It’s quite convoluted now, and as a whole cannot be completely teased apart as good and bad. Something as simple as training children to walk in a line to the cafeteria can be the start of something that leads to an extension of the external rule that trains to an internalization of that outside power.
Classroom management practices aim at eliminating disruption, which is a wonderful thing. They do, however, borrow from Servan’s idea of forming a “chain of ideas” in the heads of those being controlled or ‘controlling’ themselves. Many classroom management techniques utilize behaviorist practices such as conditioning and external motivators to alter behavior. External motivators are highly effective. We work for a paycheck, the affection of a partner, a laugh at a dinner party— all external motivators. The problem can arise when the external motivators strip an individual of their ability to think and function without the reward or punishment, even worse when one is trained to believe the reinforcer does not exist.
My aim is not to demonize classroom management, simply to highlight the roots of certain practices. Further, I want to show how our current educational climate that puts such emphasis on testing opens the way to practices that focus on control (even subtle control) rather than freedom. It’s difficult to imagine education without some of these practices. They’re functional, but not best. We work with what we have. We work around red tape and things we deem ineffective or inhumane. A better way would certainly actually be more democratic, student centered, directed by curiosity; you mentioned some of this. You develop rules with your students and help them understand their actions and help them learn to take responsibility for them. I assume you lead them in the direction of truly understanding they are the masters of their own minds by actually giving them power. The successes you encourage at their own hands builds efficacy and with that comes the understanding that they are fully capable of succeeding without you. Again, this is not the norm everywhere, and isn’t always encouraged. Sometimes it’s actively discouraged, of not through word, then deed. With the weight of testing and educator witch hunts, it would be impossible to believe that all schools are actively promoting humane treatment of students. Maybe it’s sold that way, but advertising can work miracles with perception.
On a near final note, my title, “An insidious idea behind classroom management.” does not imply that it’s the only idea; rather, it’s “an idea”, a part. As discussed earlier it is nearly impossible to tease all the good from the bad. As education is a very political field, it is impossible to find a solitary version of the truth about anything in it.
Finally, if you’ve made this far in reading this, I’d like to thank you for hearing me out. It’s lovely to share in discussion with colleagues. This dialogic format of teacher interaction most certainly leads to better understanding of theory and practice, at least on my end. I hope I didn’t ramble too terribly. I’d be glad to answer any other questions you have. Thanks for your comments and commitment to education.
- ancho-secretaer likes this
- educationiconoclast answered: Is it not true that every community no matter how small has rules and that those rules do not imply a lack of freedom?
- mellymouse answered: but foucault! power is a relationship, and “freedom” in a classroom… i’d suggest considering discipline&punish and history of sexuality
- teachersinproduction answered: DAMN THATS HARDCORE, ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL HAS NONE OF THAT ITS CHILL
- burstofhope likes this
- This was featured in #Education
- educatedtodeath posted this