Originally created 04/28/04

Strict discipline is not the answer



On April 19, I read The Augusta Chronicle's article "Trials and tribulations." It recorded the rise of trials held for serious school infractions - mock trials that are the first taste of the real trial that some children will experience before being incarcerated, supposedly.

This alternative school that children end up in is the dumping ground, the carpet under which to sweep an epidemic number of children who cannot mentally handle social situations. Stricter discipline is analogous to putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound; the problem is solved for several days only to turn up later.

I have substitute-taught in Richmond County, and it struck me, as I walked into a classroom of bubbling sixth-graders, that I wrote on a board riddled with six bullets. How do these children look beyond bullets lodged within a tool to teach them?

Our answers to children who do poorly in school, or have behavior problems, are computers, more money and raising teachers' salaries; however, none of these are solutions since they apply to the external and deny the internal. We are so focused on statistics that we have overlooked that these children have internal spirits that need to be nourished, not just their grades. The focus on numbers is evident; the article recorded a "28 percent jump" in cases and, horrifically, the number of classes the misbehaving students pass. As if a student who misbehaves and passes all but one class, compared to the student who fails all classes except one, is the predetermined loser who will have no hope of a future.

Perhaps instituting a class in which these children learn to depend on one another is a better course, because God knows they can't depend on us to help - that is, unless they need more discipline.

Jamie Gorman-Kemp, Augusta