In my May 12, 2018, letter, “Strict discipline is the answer,” I suggested that our poor school disciplinary culture has led to students killing their fellow students.
Senior citizens 75 years old and even older remember a time when bad behavior of any kind was not tolerated, especially among young people, in school or at home. As an eighth grader in 1957, when corporal punishment was normal, I called my teacher by his first name. Big mistake. In 12th grade, a student in our honors English class dozed off. Inattention was not tolerated. Chewing gum in class also was not tolerated. Being sent to the principal usually meant a swat on the butt with a big wooden paddle. It seldom happened, but the kids knew better than to challenge these high expectations of proper behavior. Political correctness did not exist, so tolerance was rare.
About 1963, due mostly to errant PC pronouncements of Dr. Spock, corporal punishment in schools was no longer politically correct. Parents also avoided corporal punishment to avoid charges of child abuse.
In 2014, 15 years after the shooting at Columbine High School, I did a presentation for a high school technology honors class on the topic of nuclear energy. Out of the
15 honors students in the room, only three paid close attention. Most were napping, chatting among themselves, eating snacks or clicking away on their cellphones. The truly bad actors among the students — those who chewed gum — no longer stood out.
I suppose it is way too late to get out the paddles again. Yet, no student should get away with chewing gum in class, just like no student should get away with posting inappropriate verbiage or bullying on the internet.
So, if you cannot beat them, you should join them. It is time to have students present their online postings in class and explain them. Each high school student should expect to have to display and discuss the student’s online postings at least once during every grading cycle. Each student in the class should also provide a critique sheet to the teacher for each presentation by other students. Each student should get a social media grade, both for their presentations and their critiques of other students’ presentations.
Charles R. Jones