A Review of Classroom Management Systems

The article, “Conventional Systems of Classroom Discipline: The Patriarchy Speaks” by Donald S. Blumenfeld-Jones, written for the Journal of Educational Thought, discusses with what the author thinks are the three main problems with the conventional systems of discipline as outlined by Canter & Canter in “Assertive Discipline Program, Glasser in “Control Theory”, and Curwin & Mendler in “Responsibility Model”. Blumenfeld-Jones argues that the “feminine perspectives of process, caring, connection, and meditations” (3), must be used to reevaluate the patriarchal mindset with which the conventional models of discipline were created. The three main problems with these models, “hyper-individuality”, rules, consequences, and principles, and the focus on the teacher as the ultimate authority are argued as such because they invalidate the importance of the connection students must be able to make between their lives and their behaviors and because they do not “allow those who benefit from the status of the oppressed to learn their intimate connection with them and act in socially responsible ways toward and with them” (7).

The focus of the article on the importance of relationships and connections is key. Many forms of classroom discipline and management do not allow the students to examine their reasons for misbehavior. Examining the rationale used when choosing a behavior can be an important step for students in their understanding of how to behave in our world. Also, too often, classroom management styles use separation from the whole as a consequence for misbehavior. While this may at first appear to be an effective technique for teaching behavior management, in reality it does not allow students to recognize their connections with others. One of each person’s fundamental needs is being with others and Blumenfeld-Jones paraphrases Glasser as taking the position that “the satisfaction of needs, such as being with others, is fundamental to understanding human motivations” (6). If this assertion is true then how can separating students from their classmates be an effective way to teach them about their motivations for certain behaviors?

However, there are questions about whether or not Bumenfeld-Jones’ approach can be taken in a middle school classroom. He even admits that he is not attempting to provide teachers with a definitive model of classroom management because each classroom is so different and will require a different method. One cannot help but wonder if his theory is a little too altruistic. What happens when caring, reasoning, patience, and student-initiated directives don’t work with a certain student. Blumenfeld-Jones does not seem to deal with how his theories will affect students with certain learning disabilities like ADD/ADHD who need rules, disciplines, and clear authority figures in order to function in a community.

Our patriarchal society has established a government that encourages “hyper-individuality” (or the focus on individual responsibility for behaviors with little thought given to the extenuating circumstances or the effect of other people on an individual’s behavior), thrives on rules, consequences, and principles, and demands respect for various authority figures. If our daily lives are, on a very large scale, governed by this kind of system of behavior management, how realistic is it to try and change behavior management on a small scale in our classrooms.

Perhaps an ideal system of classroom managment would be a combination of the “feminine perspectives of process, caring, connection, and meditation” with the patriarchal perspectives of “emphasizing clear rules articulating desired behaviors, favoring teacher authority to establish and maintain classroom order, insisting upon the student’s acceptance of personal, individual responsibility âÂ?¦ and consistently responding, on the part of the teacher, to positive and negative behavior” (2). The ideal middle school classroom would allow students to play a part in the creation of relationships between behavior and motivation and would assign the teacher the role of enabling the students to choose the appropriate behaviors with an understanding of how that behavior will affect the student’s relationships with his/her classmates, teacher, and world around him/her.

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