Can Stringent Rules in Schools Indeed Zero Out Real Issues?

Jarlath O’Brien, the Director of schools at The Eden Academy was asked on how to discipline a student’s demeanour during the lunch hours or at break time. The faculty felt that the student spent more time alone rather than involving with the other students in different activities.

Brien then asked a chain of questions to the faculty. The first being what was their cause of concern. Adjoining to the first question followed several other such as, if the child was hurting someone or his own self, if the child was behaving unruly, did the child appear distressed and if such an alienating behavior of the child was affecting his academics. The answer to each of these questions being negative, Brien suggested the faculty the student be left to his own devices.

He alludes to the opinion of a counsellor also the father of an autistic child who said “Whenever I read something about behaviour intervention for people with autism, the unspoken is ‘let’s make them more like us’.” This statement ought to be kept in mind even while attempting to improve the behavior of a normal child.

He mentions another incident when a parent was concerned about her child crossing her legs on chairs while sitting. Until then, he never perceived this as a behavioral issue. He asked where was the wrong in crossing one’s leg and sitting? The parent said that he child perpetually found herself in because of this habit, as it defied the school’s rule of “four chair legs and both feet on the floor at all times”.

He adds that although the rule was meant to solve a genuine concern, to prevent the students from dangling their legs while sitting but they lost sight of the issue they were attempting to solve.

He suggests that these rules are arbitrary. He further questions the purpose of having such rules. He asserts the rules that can be broken by the students show how we would expect children to look like and not that such a behavior is a hindrance to learning. For instance, uniform or hairdos of children is not half as much of an impediment to learning as conflict between staff and children through compulsion.

He suggests that we should be vigilant about things which disrupt the learning process of the students rather than knit picking on every rule to be followed immaculately.