Archive | March, 2012

School uniform… :) or :I or :(

23 Mar

Different schools have different rules with regards to school uniform, and how strict they are with the children wearing their school uniform. In my school we had to ask permission to take our jumpers off… school 15 mins down the road they could do in in trainers instead of shoes and hoodies instead of school jumpers and the teachers weren’t bothered. So why do we have school uniforms? What is the psychology behind uniforms? Is there an association between improving school discipline and students wearing uniforms? Lets discuss…

The Department of Education says that there is no actual legislation directly for school uniform, but they do acknowledge that it plays an important role in school life. They did however establish a five-year strategy for students recognising how uniforms can improve school attendance and behaviour in schools.

So, why do we have to wear uniforms in schools?

I am sure that it is clear to us all that when a school has uniform they are distributing the message, that everyone is the same, the school is an inclusive organisation, everyone will be treated the same. The majority of people have an innate desire to belong and feel part of a group, to have admiration and respect, and feel like they are understood and accepted (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Going to school is about the opportunity to learn, not the opportunity to demonstrate your social class and be a target for the bullies!

Some people believe that a uniform rids children of their individuality and that it encourages them to conform. But is this really the case? Perhaps it will motivate the children to individualise themselves by achievements within the school rather than what they wear! In the evening before or morning of school children can focus on their work instead on worrying about what they are going to wear, will they get laughed at, will it be deemed acceptable. Work is the focus, not clothes!

However, could school uniforms be causing a ‘halo effect’? It is not actually the students’ behaviour that changes as a result of the uniforms, it is the way in which teachers and adults alike perceive the students when they wear the uniform. Behling (1994) found that both teachers and students believed that uniform-clad students exhibited more preferable behaviour and performed better academically than the students who did not wear uniforms. It is a possibility that this is an illusion, however Behling does construe that these positive perceptions could assist creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by where marking and discipline standards are increased to mirror their greater positive image of the students who consequently behave more appropriately.

I didn’t have any problem with wearing a school uniform, because lets be honest uniforms are a part of life… we all have expectations to what we expect people in certain jobs to wear! What I do not agree with is a school in London, specifically, which has decided to split a school into three sub-schools and the children wear a particular uniform depending on the sub-school they are placed in! Gifted and talented wear purple ties and badges and the remainder either wears blue or red. I feel this diminishes the whole purpose of a school uniform?!

What is your opinion on school uniform? Did you have to wear a uniform during 6th form?

Baumeister R.F., Leary M.R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529.


Does detention in schools actually work? Time for a change, How??

16 Mar

In my school, the stereotypical students that got detention were those of two types. You had the children who couldn’t stop talking or were disruptive in some way in the classroom, and then you had the students who wanted to be anywhere than in the classroom and so behaved in any manner that would let them escape! Sound familiar?           (Just to point out I was neither!)

Atkins et al. (2002) investigated whether detentions and suspension in urban, low-income schools were a punishment or a reward? They compared the rates of disciplinary referrals of the children who hadn’t received detention/suspension (never group), students who had had 1+ detention/suspension during fall but not spring (fall group) and students how had 1+ detention/suspension in each the fall and spring (fall + spring group). They found that the number of referrals over the year increased for the ‘fall + spring group’, highlighting that detention/suspension was functioning as a reward and not a punishment.

This study to me sounds far too familiar in many schools. So is it not time to re-vamp the punishment system… find something that actually will benefit children?

Upon researching I came across ‘Choice Theory’… let me expand!

Recently a large-scale study established there are 3 major characteristics that differentiate teachers who are able to manage pupils well to those who don’t. An effective teacher can be characterised as:

–          Has insight to where the child’s behaviour has originated from and/or what is causing it

–          Understand that no-one can actually control another individual

–           Have control of themselves when dealing with the child’s behaviour.

Internal control psychology enables us to understand why individuals behave in a particular manner. Choice theory, like other internal control theories, argues that each behaviour exhibited by an individual has a purpose. That purpose involves satisfying biological and psychological needs (Survival, Love and Belonging, Fun and Enjoyment, Power and Self-worth, and Freedom).

This theory is called choice theory because all behaviour is our best effort, at that particular moment, to control ourselves. Individuals have full responsibility for their behaviour; they cannot be ‘made’ to do anything by another, and this is why authoritarian management (like used in schools) will not results in long-term behaviour change! Behaviour is internally motivated. Short-term compliance can be established via rewards and sanctions, but will also not result in long-term behaviour change.

When choice theory is used in the classroom as the teachers  frame of reference, hey begin to notice how their efforts to control the students via nagging, criticising, punishing and rewarding demolishes the relationship that could be characterised as trustful and harmonic. Many schools that use internal control psychology instead of traditional coercive techniques associated with school discipline now stimulate responsibility and respect!

These types of schools can be identified by their methods to:

–          Abolish punishment and instigate approaches that educate and support pupils

–          Empower students as appose to control them

–          Allow  and encourage students to evaluate their own behaviours and reflect on their individual learning strategies

–          Encourage discussion about ‘quality’

–          Establish a recognition between students and teachers that they should be allies in a learning community and not enemies

Academics that spend a little more time planning how they will handle their classrooms to make sure that they are needs-satisfying environment for both staff and pupils, should find they have less episodes of disruption, violence and absence,  and the children may even produce a higher standard of work!                 Win-win all round I think!


So let’s see a little less detention and suspension, and standing outside the class… and lets have a little more understanding!


Every Student Can Succeed (2001) – describes what to do and say to challenging students.

Theory in the Classroom (1998) – proposes the use of learning teams to capture the excitement students experience in sport.

The Quality School Teacher (1998) – outlines he specifics that teachers need to create a quality classroom.

The Quality School (1998) – discusses the need to replace coercive management with systems that bring staff and students closer together.

Schools without Failure (1969) – proposes a programme based on involvement, relevance and thinking

Education & Evolutionary psychology

9 Mar

(This blog will lead on to next weeks blog)

Evolutionary psychology has been growing in strength over recent years. Kennedy (2006), an educational psychologist, however describes how evolutionary theory is yet to inform assessment and interventions in education. Over past decades psychological disciplines have been developed segregated from each other, and it is time for theories to be integrated (Buss, 1995). Technical terms and different assumptions have interrupted the development of research.

In schools, teachers are faced regularly with different distributive behaviour… rudeness, aggression, and refusal to co-operate. But teachers respond in different ways… what is the right way to deal with the misbehaving child? Pastoral and behaviourist approaches are what cause the separation. Bear (2009) compares two popular techniques:

  1. Positive discipline à Based on creating self-discipline by meeting the social and emotional needs of the child, establishing strong teacher-pupil relationships and promoting individual and collective responsibility. Avoids behaviourist-style rewards and sanctions.
  2. Assertive discipline à Based on clear rules, and applied rewards and sanctions, which become internalised by the student.

Establishing a balance of which approach to foster to a misbehaving child is unfortunately down to ‘professional judgment’, this could be a good and bad thing! Neither psychological theories nor research offer rationale for which approach is better applied due to the fact they are self-contained. In the majority of schools, the discipline generally exerted is punishment so that children comply with the individuals who have authority. Should this be the cause? What are we really teaching the children by doing this?

How can we move forward to knowing what discipline technique is correct? Should we be testing the theories on each other to find the right one or the best? Predicted by evolutionary psychology that it is probable that a group of psychological mechanisms has been developed to solve different problems. If applied under particular circumstances, conflicting theories could be appropriate (Buss, 1995).





How material is delivered to us… Motivating enough for you?! :S

2 Mar

So, over recent weeks there have been blogs about motivation, and how it is potentially the most important factor that should be targeted by educators to improve students learning, and I thought one issue I think we can all agree that influences a students motivation for a topic is how the material is delivered to us.

“If you tell me I will listen.

            If you show me I will see.

                        If you let me experience, I will learn!”

–       Lao-Tzu


Alderman (1999) devised two approaches for motivating students in a classroom setting via supporting and cultivating them. These were:

  1. Creating a classroom structure and institutional method that accommodates a optimal motivation, engagement and learning environment
  2. Helping students to establish tools that will allow them to become self-regulated

Now lets consider different processes/methods that can contribute to the motivation of students…


  • Educators could use monetary incentives or small incentive gifts to encourage the student to learn. Unfortunately, rewards and punishments have been found beneficial for controlling students’ immediate classroom behaviour, but do not establish intrinsic, long-term desire or commitment to learning (Daniels, 2010).

 Experiential Learning:

  • 1n 1968 Smith and Kolb demonstrated individual experiential learning differences via 4 learning styles

–       Convergent learning style

–       Divergent learning style

–       Reflective learning style

–       Accommodator learning style

Learning styles are an amalgamation of heredity, education, experience and environmental demands. Each style is different, but this does not mean that one is better than the other (Komarraiau & Karan, 2008), learning styles have been positively correlated with individuals work preferences (Saunders, 1997).

Enhanced Lecture:

  • Can you honestly say you have concentrated the entreaty of your lectures? Unfortunately, despite the method of lectures being an academic staple, students are unable to pay attention the whole time! Educators need to be mindful of students’ attention cycles and should endeavour to increase students’ attention by teaching using student-centered enhanced lecture techniques (Bunce, Flens, & Neiles, 2010). Interactivity is a very important in lectures… did you feel interacted with in the lectures in PJ Hall?? Heitzmann (2010) also found that teachers should recap the current lecture and present a preview of the following lecture, because students know what topic they can expect.

In conclusion, there are many different learning styles, and as individuals we all have our own preferences but in a classroom setting we cannot all be facilitated all the time, but via educators using a range of methods to deliver material to us we will become more motivated to learn in contrast to sitting there with a textbook chapter!!

This picture… well i just thought it summed up the current curriculum and thought I’d include it for you to see it!