Archive for February, 2010


February 2, 2010

Punctuality is the art of working out how late the other person is going to be. Most organisations struggle to start on time because people do not show up on time. A school is no different, and punctuality becomes important in maximising effective teaching time, and co-ordinating activities and resources. The school needs to decide what strategies are most effective to encourage punctuality among the students.

Some schools punish students for being late, by issuing a ‘demerit’. Lateness is not misbehaviour; it is merely the lack of a good habit, or lack of organisational skills. Punctuality is an habit and a courtesy with which many adults struggle; even the most organised and courteous people can be late because of circumstances beyond their control. In punishing latecomers the school risks acting unjustly and creating resentment in the student and parent. The danger with punishing a child for something beyond their control is that it destroys self esteem and creates a feeling of powerlessness, leading to diminished personal responsibility.

Condemning a student for lacking an habit or virtue does nothing to develop the desired habit or virtue. Placing a teacher at the gate to issue ‘demerits’ to latecomers actually rewards the latecomers with increased attention.

The Positive Parenting Program (PPP) teaches the maxim ‘Rewarded behaviours will be repeated.’

Far better to reward the on time students with a ‘merit,’ enhancing self esteem, and reinforcing personal responsibility. Latecomers would miss the opportunity for a merit, may feel this more keenly than a demerit. Positive motivation is far more powerful. A further step would be to issue a ‘merit’ at morning homeroom for a desired aspect of grooming, for example: neat haircut, top button fastened, shoes on the correct feet. The expectation would be that every student would receive a ‘merit’ as the particular aspect of grooming would be advertised well in advance. PPP also teaches ‘make it easy to do the right thing, and catch them doing it.’

Another positive initiative worthy of praise is the demise of the evening to hand out the “Assessment manual”, which has been replaced with a ‘wine and cheese’ to welcome new parents and staff to the school. This places the focus firmly on building community and learning, and encourages parents to collaborate and assist each other as parents. Excessive emphasis on assessment can lead to school degenerating into an expensive method of sorting winners and losers- a competition to see who gets the best jobs.

School of the week is the one where the kindy boy came home from his second day and said “It was fantastic, we had dance fever”.