Punishment is the Solution

This second last day of school looks like this, a few people working but most of them talking.  So, I suggested that they can choose to work or do anything as long as we all can work quietly.  Not five seconds later their was a cacophony of loud voices.  I called a meeting.  GROANNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!

I wrote on the board, It’s too noisy.  Immediately a hand was raised, ” I make a motion….”  I did a very undemocratic thing and cut that student off.  I said we learned  the last time that we made too many motions and came up with too many rules that we had a difficult time following, hence all the resets.

So, we discussed.  Immediately the students brought up punishments as a solution.  Once again, I intervened and said, ‘No,  no punishments!”   One student quipped,  we won’t do the right thing unless there is a serious enough consequence.  I said I disagree.    I think we can practice speaking in a quiet tone until it becomes a habit.  So, we decided to give that a try.  We defined “quiet” as a Dr. Whitehouse voice, who speaks in a very quiet tone all the time.   I need to work on this too.  My booming so-called teacher voice is distracting as well.

After two and half hours I had to remind students to use a quiet tone about six times.  Is that OK?  The thing is students don’t care about the noise level unless they want to work on something.  It’s not that they are being mean or yelling to bug me, they just don’t notice when they get so loud that they can be  heard  down the hall.  Am I   biased in my thinking because their loudness is not about educational things but about games or gossip?  If they were loud and enthusiastic about some science or social studies topic would I be as a stickler for quiet?

I have so much to learn about being a good unschool teacher.  I have may years of schooling to get out of my system.


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