Is authority in classrooms today too laid back? I hear the ‘older generation’ say ‘Back in my day we had…’ and it seemed that children would be scared of school, and thus scared of learning, but now have we got too lackadaisical with our discipline system?
I’ve witnessed many times in schools children who have lashed out at other children and lashed out at teachers when things did not go their way. They were also keen to threaten the teacher as well; I believe that this behaviour is unacceptable, but is something I will have to deal with during my teacher training and throughout my teaching career. This behaviour that I mentioned was a KS1 child, who did not have diagnosed behavioural or learning difficulties after a number of tests.
With cases like these, people are always looking for people to blame: the parents or the teachers, but is it anyone’s fault the children behave this way? It could be a number of issues that could contribute to this: the child’s personality, a behavioural or learning disability, the child’s upbringing/home life (the way they are treated or lack of authority figures at home or in school), and I am sure there could be other factors contributing to this.
The child’s personality may clash with that of the teacher or other members of staff contributing to the child getting in trouble (whether loosing break or lunch times) and the child getting frustrated and lashing out. This ‘bad behaviour’ could go on for as long as the child is in that class, and as soon as they get into another teachers class they could act completely differently. This is one of the contributing factors why it is important for children to change classes, as well as the emotional and confidence building around working with different adults; it also allows children to make a ‘fresh start’ to a new school year.
Behavioural and Learning Difficulties
Behavioural and learning difficulties have had a lot of debate over the last few years, even though ‘conditions’ such as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are medically proven. Some people that I have heard talking about this say that it is some sort of ‘made up’ disorder. I disagree. I am very interested in learning more about behavioural and learning difficulties, and am very interested in working with children that may have these difficulties; I have completed some reading into ADHD and am going to use it as a case study in my blog.
The two websites I looked into are the NHS, and the BBC Health Website.
The NHS website seems to give a prognosis of what ADHD is – a simple guide to diagnosing yourself or someone you know that may have the symtoms; a sort of self-diagnoses, followed by a paragraph answering “How common is ADHD?”, in other words: “Is this normal?”, finally, an outlook, which explains what to do next. It also has different tabs on symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and lifestyle, map of medicines, medicines info and clinical trials. It seems to me that this is in too much detail, like sometimes people want to put labels on people, I believe that everyone has a few symptoms of some difficulties. Or to be diagnosed as ADHD, do you have to show all four symptoms that the NHS website shows? But other symptoms of ADHD are “The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be categorised into two sets of behavioural problems:
•symptoms of inattentiveness
•symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness
It is not fully understood whether these problems are an extreme form of normal behaviour, or part of a separate range of behaviour.” (NHS, February 2012)
The child is either ADHD mainly inattentive, mainly hyperactive-impulsive or combined; the most common being ADHD combined. I have to ask, who this website is aimed at, I believe it could be for parents and teachers alike. If you haven’t had much training on it in your degree as a teacher you may read it for a beginning stage before getting more involved reading done, as well as work with a specialist in your school or county.
The NHS also suggest, along with medication there will be “psychological, educational and social therapies that aim to improve behaviour” (NHS, February 2012); will I be trained to do educational therapies to improve behaviour by the end of my course, or will I have to be trained or specialist to do this? Also, how will they fit in psychological and social therapies, will this affect their education because they have to fit it in ‘in school time’? And also could this make the difficulty worse because they don’t feel the same as the rest of the children in their class because only 3-9% of school-aged children and young people have this difficulty?
Should all the children with the different types of ADHD be treated the same, or differently because the conditions are slightly different?
The BBC Health website offered me similar information on the matter, but seemed more friendly and offered support and advice. This, I believe, was more aimed at the parents, more than the NHS website, even though, the NHS website may be seen as a more trustworthy site for health issues.
Linking this back to my blog title “authority”, should teachers show more, less or equal authority to these children than the rest of the class? And teachers may say they do, but do they unconsciously treat children with this condition differently, applying not just to primary aged children but to young adults as well?
I am going to carry on to read books on ADHD in pacific subjects and find out other people’s experiences, so I can be a better teacher when I qualify and better help my children learn in the future.
I shall end this section of the blog with a few facts on ADHD.
ADHD is the most common behavioural disorder in the UK. It is estimated that the condition affects 3–9% of school-aged children and young people. Worldwide, around 2% of adults may be affected by ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD tend to start at an early age, and they may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstances change, such as starting school. ADHD is normally diagnosed between the ages of three to seven, although in some cases it may not be until much later. It is more commonly diagnosed in boys.
It is still uncertain whether ADHD can occur in adults without first appearing in childhood. (NHS Direct, February 2012)
The child’s upbringing/home life (the way they are treated or lack of authority figures at home or in school)
This is a very difficult area for a teacher, if they believe that a child in their care maybe in danger, or not having a very good home life. What I think I will find difficult as a teacher is deciding when do you step in to home life, and when you keep out; is it when you see bruises and cuts, you question other members of staff, then parents? Do you have ‘log books’ for every time a child comes in with a new cut, bruise or an incident has happened, you write it down and see if it is a common occurrence and see if it is the same sort of thing? Whom do you tell, as a teacher, if a child has confided in you about an incident that has happened to them at home? Is it the head, or will there be a special person to tell? A lot needs to be thought about, with a quick and snappy decision; what will the affect be on the child, who will need to get involved (the authorities, the parents, extended families), more information on the case, is the child exaggerating or not telling the truth?
The attitude of parents towards education, I believe, contributes greatly towards the way children behave in class, and the amount of work the child does and the amount of time the child spends ‘misbehaving’.
Late nights can affect the child’s performance. The child can be really bright but if they are tired, hungry, thirsty or uncomfortable in the classroom they are unlikely to develop their knowledge at a rate that they would be if they were one or less of these above, but I believe that this is not always the case.
How can teachers plan and differentiate a lesson for a class with different social needs and very different lives?
Children in the class
Another thought that could be on the back of the teachers mind is ‘how is this child’s behaviour affecting the rest of my classes’ learning?’. Then the teacher would have to think about not their own authority in the classroom but the ‘higher up authority’ of the head-teacher or head of department, whom may have more experience.
Every child is different and with every class you get, the class will be different, therefore the amount of authority a teacher needs to use every year needs to change. Also, it depends on the time of the year, children will be more excited at the start of the year and more tired at the end, as well as when you get a new class, they want to test how far they can ‘push’ you to get away with things; your authority will be pushed then. On the other hand, too much authority could be bad in any school whether Primary school or Secondary School or a University because it can be intimidating – a teacher should also be accessible (children need to be able to talk to you), enthusiastic about your subject and fun.
NHS [online] http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/Pages/Symptoms.aspx [accessed 16th February 2012]
BBC Health [online] http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/attention2.shtml [accessed 16th February 2012]