Fear kills the ability to learn, and learning takes place effectively only in the absence of fear. It is therefore a good thing that corporal punishment in schools has been outlawed. However, this has created a vacuum.
Discipline problems that were formerly punished in this way now appear to have no solution. At the same time, the discipline problems in schools are mirrored by increasing crimes of violence and antisocial behaviour outside school. The solution to this requires a complete rethink of the curriculum.
At present, moral values teaching is embedded within each curriculum subject. This gives it a peripheral position. Rearrangement of the curriculum, to ensure that moral values and good behaviour become the central pillar of education, would turn this round. Each curriculum subject would then become embedded within moral values.
The living values educational initiative, supported by the United Nations Education and Science Organisation (UNESCO), is just such a programme (www.livingvalues.net). Each day begins with a discussion of the value being considered, such as responsibility or co-operation. Lessons are designed to incorporate this value, and situations are arranged which enable pupils to practise it. Children become more helpful, more reponsible, more peaceful, and bullying disappears.
If these values were discussed and practised every day throughout the primary years, perhaps 11 to 14 would no longer be "the difficult years" (TES Cymru, March 11). Elimination of most discipline problems would make teaching so much easier.
Patricia Knox. PO Box 75. Holyhead