Creative new lines on punitive measures

12th August 2005 at 01:00
The cane is illegal. Extra work means extra marking and shouting gives you a sore throat. But alternatives to writing lines are hard to find.

Now teachers are using the TES online staffroom to discuss the best punishments. For many, the aim is to achieve tedium without the relief of mindlessness. One teacher says: "Get a sheet of squared paper. In the first square put a one, in the second a two, and so on. They can't build a rhythm and it takes forever."

Another has a subject-related option: "As a technology teacher, I empty a full box of panel pins on to a desk. They have to count them into piles of five to find out how many we've got. Bores 'em rigid."

For others, detention is the answer, true punishment in the chain-gang tradition. One teacher writes: "I got a student to move the desks in my room to the side for a practical lesson the next day. After they had done it, I said, 'I won't do that after all. Move them back.'"

Others recommend stacking library books or picking up rubbish from the classroom floor. But, as all prison warders know, the best punishments fit the crime.

Another teacher says: "Chewing gum in my lesson? Rubber gloves, paint scraper, tables upside-down, and off you go."

If pupils talk in class, this same teacher asks them to prepare a speech on a given topic for any staff who choose to attend. If they fail to show suitable respect for resources, they must organise her books or clean her keyboard.

But for another the worst punishment involves no mindless or arduous work:

"I get them to fill in a behaviour lesson sheet, then confront the pupils about what they wrote," says one contributor.

"Is the issue that you were chewing gum, or that you thought I was too stupid to notice? They hate it. I've had kids beg to do lines instead."

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