What to do with children who permanently disturb the lessons or who litter in the classroom? In Cambodia, unfortunately, corporal punishment is still applied too often in such cases. This is shown by a UNICEF report on violence against children in Cambodia from 2014:
“Teachers are also frequent perpetrators of childhood physical violence. Females and males in both age groups who experienced childhood physical violence by someone living in the community most frequently cited male teachers as the perpetrator of the first incident of physical violence, followed by female teachers.”.
Source: Findings from Cambodia’s Violence Against Children Survey 2013: https://www.unicef.org/cambodia/UNICEF_VAC_Summary_English.pdf
At our school, any use of violence against students has always been prohibited. This is a recurring theme in the monthly meetings between the teachers and Michael. Since this oftentimes ends in discussions on alternative ways to effectively manage the lessons, we had the idea of creating classroom rules together with the children. The participatory approach is particularly important because it prevents the students from having the feeling that rules are being imposed “from above”.
Since it is also important that the number of rules remains manageable, we took up and summarized the 8 most frequently mentioned rules and then asked the students to paint a picture for each rule. Some of these pictures finally made it onto the shrink-wrapped posters with the rules that were hung by all the teachers in their classrooms yesterday. On this occasion, each rule was explained once again and the children’s questions were discussed. By placing a signature or fingerprint under the posters, all students finally accepted the introduction of the new rules.
We are aware that this does not mean that we have introduced a universal remedy to prevent violence in schools, but we have provided teachers with a simple and important tool which enables them to reference the posters in the event of a rule violation and to point out to students that they have made and signed the rules themselves.
And if someone still misbehaves a lot, there are a number of non-violent ways to keep the chaos in the classrooms on a manageable level, from assigning sweeping services to conversations with the child himself or his parents.
But we never stop learning. There are some teachers and educators among you. If you have ideas and tips on how to get the children to work together in a concentrated way by providing positive incentives, please send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are looking forward to your suggestions.