Research on the Evolution Disciplinary Methods and Their Harmful Effects on Children

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As a member of Generation Z, I am constantly observing the inadequate respect shown by adolescents and the ways they treat their older citizens, especially their teachers and parents. For this reason, I chose to investigate the changing discipline methods accepted by society in the school environment and how this has influenced the agents of socialisation in the school community. The agents of socialisation are the factors that allow individuals to create their social self and understand their culture to have their own interpretation. The school environment is an important aspect of the socialisation process allowing individuals to learn about the rules and expectations of the world, whilst still enhancing their life skills and social ability. In today’s generation, there is a significant decrease in the general respect elders receive from adolescents in public and the school environment.

This downfall in respect may have occurred due to changing legislation rules regarding accepted discipline methods in school. These changing methods decreased the authority governed to teachers and reduced their power to control their students and implement an effective behaviour strategy. In my research, I conducted a questionnaire and an interview with two members of the Baby Boomer generation. A questionnaire is an effective research method allowing me to collect qualitative and quantitative responses that can be produced into statistical data to be quantified. An interview is an effective way to collect qualitative data, which provides an individual’s opinion and ideas which can provide valuable data.

What I hope to achieve in this investigation is to gain an understanding of the personal, social and cultural issues and develop my understanding of one’s behaviour and how it is influenced by their values and beliefs. I also hope to achieve effective communication with individuals from a different generation, respecting their opinion, having an appreciation of their moral beliefs and the factors in their lives that have affected this belief.

Central materials

Evolution of disciplinary methods and their negative effect on children’s behaviour

The school environment is an important aspect of an individual’s life allowing students to enhance their level of socialisation, and further develop their knowledge in essential life skills. School is a vital agent of the socialisation process which assists in the individual’s concept of the social self and allows them to develop an understanding of the expectations of life. The school environment not only assists in educating students but also teaches them about the social norms of the world and their responsibilities to themselves and the people they interact with. School plays a vital role in creating these social norms by implementing strategies where students learn the consequences of disruptive behaviour and incorrect social etiquette. Unfortunately, as time progresses, discipline rules are changing and the authority governed to teachers is reducing.

During the Baby Boomer generation, the disciplinary methods accepted in society consisted of forms of corporal punishment where individuals were either hit with a cane or by a chalk duster. As legislation continued and social norms changed, the cane later was banned in NSW in 1995 New Matilda (2019) and the disciplinary methods had a significant impact on the authority teachers had over their students. Over the past two weeks, research was conducted to investigate the changing discipline methods accepted by society in the school environment and how it has influenced the agents of socialisation. A questionnaire and interview were conducted seeking honest responses from Generation Z and the Baby Boomer generation and their opinions on the matter. These multiple research methods supported the idea that disciplinary methods evolved during these two generations and resulted in a negative effect on adolescents’ behaviour.

When comparing both generations a questionnaire was conducted asking participants whether they agreed that the social norms affected the discipline methods accepted in society. When analysing the results, 46% of respondents from both generations agreed that the disciplinary methods were affected by the social norms of society. An interview was further conducted asking two members from the Baby Boomer generation whether they believed these changes had a negative effect on the students, with the respondent’s affirming this belief. The two Baby Boomer interviewee’s discussed their opinions and stated that adolescents get away with disruptive behavioural because no modern discipline measures were effective. The participants from the interview further explained their opinions on the legislation change and their judgement that today’s society is too “sensitive to the world and can’t take harsh punishment” Jouannet (2019). These valuable opinions show the effect of corporal punishment on the Baby Boomer generation and allow them to make a judgement on the effect of modern discipline and its effectiveness.

A further investigation took place asking participants from the questionnaire to order the social behaviours that were mainly practised within their school environment. When analysing the results from the baby boomer generation, a majority of the respondents replied with “discipline and manners” as the main social value portrayed in the school environment compared to Generation Z where “social interactions and cultural awareness” were the more prominent social behaviours. These results can be seen in source one with the Baby Boomers generation choosing manners as a main social value compared to Generation Z with social interaction being a vital aspect. This difference in results reinforces how students in the Baby Boomer generation were subject to building correct etiquette towards the public.

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This formal behaviour may have been deprived of the strictness in the classroom and affected their behaviour and attitudes towards society. These results reinforce the belief that this generation is losing there general respect and manners towards the society and the negative effects these changing disciplinary methods had on Generation Z. The results further reinforce the idea that good manners and discipline are not social behaviours that are idolised as much in the school community.

How have the changing discipline methods affected the agents of socialisation within the school

Between the two generations, there is a significant difference in the disciplinary methods used and accepted in society. When analysing the quantitative data from the questionnaire, 100% of the responses from the Baby Boomer generation stated that there was a form of corporal punishment used in their school life with 86% agreeing that it was the mainstay of discipline in school. When comparing these results 100% of the Generation Z recorded no forms of corporal punishment, with the detention being the harshest form of discipline. An interview was conducted with two members from the Baby Boomer generation who agreed that corporal punishment had a positive effect on the development of the students socialising and the sustainability of classroom life. These two interviewees further explained that corporal punishment was an effective measure that helped shape a respectful generation with good ethical principles. As stated by Josphine (2018) corporal punishment “encourages avoidance of behaviours” and “Children being physically punished will also feel deterred from engaging in certain behaviours”. This statement reinforces the mental effects corporal punishment has on the child, as well as the physical pain that is associated with physical punishment.

The quantitative data from the questionnaire reinforces the beliefs of the Baby generation with 82% strongly affirming the belief that corporal punishment had an effect on the attitudes of adolescents in society. The school played a vital role in the socialisation process because children can interact with other children of similar ages and learn general life skills that can be applied in the future. In the Baby Boomer generation, “teachers held great authority and had the power to enforce consequences on the children” Jouannet (2019). With the loss of corporal punishment, more children are behaving in ways that were not once tolerated, leading them to develop negative social interaction towards their family and society. From an academic journal “The End of Corporal Punishment in the Schools of Toronto” an interview was conducted with Bronfenbrenners (1986) who suggest that physically discipline “helped adjust the behaviours of individuals” perhaps reinforcing that this fear of consequences helped implement positive values to society.

During the Baby Boomer generation, teachers held more authority and held a significant amount of power over the students using fear as the foundation of the discipline. Research conducted by McKeown (2010) suggest that students had this “fear of the strap” and its effective measure to help regulate classroom life. McKeown further explains that “teachers were tempted to use corporal punishment to establish and sustain order in large and growing classrooms”. This idea of the growing classroom may have resulted in an increase in children attending school post World War 2. A questionnaire was conducted asking participants whether they believed events like World War Two had an effect on the disciplinary methods displayed in the classroom. The majority of the Baby Boomer generation agreed that the post war world had an impact on the disciplinary methods used and had a positive effect on classroom life.

Conclusion

From the secondary research conducted and evidence from primary sources, the evolution of the disciplinary methods had a significant effect on the agents of socialisation. Accepted disciplinary methods had evolved over time, and was caused by changing social values and attitudes. It is evident that in the Baby Boomer generation, teachers held a high authority over students and could practice disciplinary methods that were effective in shaping the individual’s sense of self. When finalising the result I noticed the significant difference in the way teachers dealt with disruptive behaviour and how the different disciplinary methods affected the school agents of socialisation. When analyzing my results, I was surprised by the harsh methods used in the Baby Boomer generation and how they were accepted in society. After conducting research I realise that these harsh disciplinary methods had a positive effect on the students, with most people having higher respect for their elders and others in society.

After analysing the results from the questionnaire I was content with the number of people who filled out the form, but can improve on equaling out the responses so there is an even amount of participants of each generation. If I was to redo my assessment I would ask more questions during the interview so all the answers could be analysed and used to support my response. I believe interviewing two individuals from the generation allowed me to further my knowledge in the topic and have a perspective from both a male and female. In the future, I would interview more people or hold a focus group which would increase my knowledge of the topic and provide more responses to support my investigation. I found the task difficult to investigate because I had such a strong opinion on the matters of corporal punishment in school and felt like I was seeking evidence to help prove my point.

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