I'm curious, Neroon, as to specifics regarding adequately toothy discipline to apply in schools. What would you like to be able to do to your pupils to keep them in line that you are prevented from currently?
I would change three things.
1) Give teachers the ability to make the current sanction we use enforceable. At the moment they are not. Pupils can- and do- walk out of detentions and teachers are not allowed to bar their way. Similarly, pupils can disrupt learning with such things mobile phones yet there is no legal ability for teachers to conficate such items, much less search for them to preempt such disruption.
2) Remove the sanctions that effectively prevent schools from permanently excluding problem pupils. At the moment, schools that permanently exclude problem pupiils are likely to be deemed to be failing in an Ofsted inpection. Furthermore, schools face financial sanctions for every pupil they exclude. When you add to it that almost every exclusion is applealed and that, currently about half of them are overturned, we have a situation where something that a school does in the very last resort only resolves the problem half of the time. So pupils are given the message that the school's ultimate sanction is unenforceable.
3) Restore the presumption of innocence in the face of pupil allegations. As it is, if a pupil alleges that a teacher has spoken inappropriately, physicaly restrained them or stepped beyond the bounds of acceptable behaviour in any way, the pupils words are presumed to be more truthful than the teacher's. Thus students will make allegations against the teachers that punish them as a means of retaliation.
There does not need to be any particularly harsh form of discipline, it just has to be capable of being enforced, so that children realise that if they break rules, negative consequences will affect them. At the moment that is not the case and so a valuable life lesson is not being learned.
Regarding the link between a lack of hard discipline and greater social disorder, is there any evidence beyond your personal opinion that might help to persuade someone, like myself, who suspects confirmation bias is largely responsible for your observations and conclusions? As far as I'm aware studies show there is a very strong link between disorder in schools and socioeconomic deprivation. If there is another reliable link, I'd love to hear about it.
Actually, the link there is more to do with parental attitude than one of socioeconomic class, which was recognise even as far back as the 1980's in Ivan Reid's The Sociology of School and Education
. The apparent link between good pupil behaviour and socio-econimic group is due to the fact that there is a link between parental attitudes to both education and child behaviour. Over the decades, it has been my experience that the attitudes of more affluent parents have not altered significantly while those of parents in less affluent groups has. Why that might be the case, I don't know.
However, when I started teaching in the late eighties in an inner city school, the typical attitude of parents was supportive of school discipline and would often punish the kid themselves over any sanction the school had imposed. Now, however, that is not the case and a large number of such parents are indifferent to their children's progress and behaviour. So the only limits placed on the actions of the real problem kids are the increasingly toothless limits imposed by schools.
I find it significant that four years ago Unicef rated British children as the unhappiest in a study of 21 wealthy western nations. Do you suppose the top 10 countries listed in the study are known to be harder on their youth than the UK? I wonder how much summer rioting goes on in the top 10?
I was involved with the PISA survey you mention, that the OECD organised for UNICEF, in that I was a liaison involved in the collection of the data relevant to science education in my area. My role was to greet the data collector and round up the kids he wanted to include in the survey. To be honest, looking at the protocols for how the data was collected, I was surprised that Britain scored so highly. Selecting children at random and forcing them to miss a lunchbreak to complete an exam and then a survey is not the way to give a positive set of answers, even from those children that didn't just walk out. I think that in many ways, the structural errors in the data collected there more than outweigh any possible confirmation bias in my opinions.
Bound to help matters. I mean, that approach is working well for Syria, and what a wonderful model of society Syria is. The UK should be more like that.
Really, sarcasm like this is hardly helpful to reasoned debate and does little to aid your argument. This is a shame, as I actually agree that the primary duty of a society is to protect all of its citizens' rights and freedoms. However, with rights come responsibilities and with freedom comes the duty to consider the needs of others. When individuals insist on limiting the rights, freedoms and safeties of others, then it is right for society as a whole, through the law to bring those individuals to justice. This includes not just rioters but any vigilantes that seek to usurp the rule of law.
I firmly believe that violence is the last resort of the incompetent. However, that is because I believe that the incompetent will capitulate to the unacceptable before considering violence, while the competent will resort to violence before such capitulation is necessary. Excessive violence is wrong and I see very few situations where it can be justified. However, that does not mean that all violence is necessarily wrong, if used in noble aims. For my mind, there are fewer aims more noble than protecting the liberty and way of life of one's society.