A child's view of bad behaviour

12th January 1996 at 00:00
Our nine-year-old children combined this term's exploration of school rules with a novel use of their computer database. Having discussed what would make life in school pleasant for them, they came up with a code of conduct. At first the usual list of prohibititions began to emerge: no running, no shouting out, no talking. Then their teacher tried to steer the discussion to more positive lines and finally emerged with two golden rules: * Be Safe.

* Be Considerate.

She then tried something a little different - to find out their views about good and bad behaviour.

Questions were devised in class, and at home. Parental input was evident with queries such as: Who is the easiest teacher? Are children naughty because of their teacher?

Such questions - and childish ones seeking misguided glory by trying to name the naughtiest child in the school - were eliminated when it was decided that no individual should be hurt.

The information was analysed and led to these hotly-debated results:

* Girls do less hitting and kicking than boys

* Boys do more idle chatting

* Girls run down corridors less

* The worst possible behaviour is throwing

* Year 6 children are better behaved than other year groups.

* Children behave better in the mornings.

When discussing the results one girl suggested boys shows off aggressively because they are stronger and other boys expect them to be "just like their dads in war. They don't work hard because it's sissy. Older children behave better because the teachers have had more time to get at them, and children behave less well in the afternoon because it is nearer hometime and teachers let them get away with it!" The children thought teachers could be stricter with boys and one child suggested separate classes for well-behaved children, even though this could result in all-girl classes.

For the teacher the most fascinating part of the project was the echoes of recent research reported in The TES on gender differences.

Bob Aston is headteacher of a junior school in Kent

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