I have so many objections to this kind of classroom management that I have a hard time figuring out where to start but here goes:
- Children succeed if they can. When a situation demands a child's lagging skills, we get unsolved problems. Because I know that misbehaviour is a symptom of much more complex and interesting problems, I see these unsolved problems as teachable moments. This behaviour chart reduces children to punitive measures where the misbehaviour is seen as nothing more than an inconvenience to the teacher that needs to be snuffed out. This chart belongs in a prison not a classroom.
- Even if this was a good way of managing a classroom, and it's not, the public nature of this chart is extremely inappropriate. Making this kind of information for all to see is nothing more than a way of publicly naming and shaming children. I know very few adults who would put up with this kind of treatment at their workplace, so then why would we ever subject children to this? It's also unprofessional and malpractice. A doctor would never post their patients' health records publicly, and an accountant would not post their clients' tax records publicly. A lawyer would not post their clients' billing information publicly, nor would a teacher post their students' Individual Program Plans for all to see. So why would a teacher ever think that it would be appropriate to post this behaviour chart publicly?
- People who ask, "do you want me to treat you like a child?" and post behaviour charts in their classrooms, tell us more about their dark view of children than they tell us about the kinds of kids they work with.
- Recess is the long lost fourth R (reading, riting, rithmetic and recess) and is a critical part of every child's healthy development. The only reason adults use it as a carrot or a stick is because most kids like recess. Using learning as a reward or a punishment is manipulative and ultimately malpractice.
- Teachers who use charts like this spend a great deal of their day catching kids being good and catching kids being bad. Inevitably, children come too see their teachers less as safe and caring allies and more as judges-in-waiting whom they learn to keep their distance.
- This chart can only ever be experienced as a reward or a punishment. Like Alfie Kohn says, rewards and punishments are not opposites -- rather they are two sides of the same coin, and they don't buy us very much other than short-term compliance. This chart is by definition a way to do things to kids when we should be working with them.
- School already places a premium on blind obedience and mindless compliance, and placing a behaviour chart that implicitly and explicitly makes following the rules the primary goal of school prepares children to be ruled by others. When we allow operant conditioning to infect the classroom, we see children less as active, free thinkers and more as passive, conditional objects. Under these conditions, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is less likely to be a problem than Compliant Acquiescent Disorder (CAD). It's important to remember that mindless compliance is responsible for far more of the atrocities against human kind than needless disobedience.
- The best teachers have a kind of unconditional acceptance of their students that does not hinge on whether children always do the right thing. In fact, the best teachers know that children will often not do the right thing and that the hardest kids to like are the ones that need us the most.
- We need to seriously rethink the archaic strategy that says that when children do something bad, something bad must be done to them. After all, when we punish children we teach them a very important lesson: You can get your way with people who are weaker than you are by hurting them.
For more on why behaviour charts should be thrown out, take a look at this post by a kindergarten teacher who explains why behaviour charts are simply not worth it.