Saturday, January 5, 2019

Arizona High School Labels Kids: You Are Big Dummy!!

If someone makes a mistake or does something wrong how do you motivate them to change their behavior? Some people think that immediate, harsh, and/or public correction is the way to go. They feel that if the error prone person doesn't suffer some unpleasant consequences, no matter how minor, then that person won't have any incentive to alter their approach.

Others contend that negative reinforcement is a horrible way to train or respond to anyone. They believe that the way to improve someone's behavior or skill set is to work with them to improve, giving them plenty of positive feedback when they do well and words of encouragement and hope when they don't. 

I can't say which approach works better overall. I have had both approaches employed on me. I have used both approaches with others. At my age harsh public correction or insult is often counterproductive. I may spend more time resenting the person calling me out than I will correcting my mistake. But there are times when a blunt "You f***** up. Fix it!!" is the only thing that works. Time is often too short to worry about people's feelings.

Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood, Ariz., issues ID badges for all students to hang around their necks — freshmen and sophomores wear red-colored cards and juniors and seniors wear gray, both of which are school colors. But according to the Arizona chapter of the ACLU, upperclassmen who struggle in classes must also wear red badges (aka “scarlet badges” of shame) with numbers that indicate their repeated grade level if their marks don’t improve. 

“Not surprisingly, students forced to wear the bright-red badges have experienced increased bullying, public ridicule, and shaming by other students and teachers,” reads a Dec. 28 letter from the ACLU to superintendent Genie Gee.
A student whose identity was kept private “has heard other students call classmates wearing the scarlet badge ‘stupid’ and ‘problem kids,'” wrote legal director Kathleen E. Brody. The student “reports that because of wearing the scarlet badge, [redacted] receives less individual instruction from teachers because they assume [redacted] is not interested, motivated, or capable of learning. This all causes [redacted] to experience increased anxiety at school, feel ostracized from other students, and feel stigmatized by teachers and administrators.”
The ACLU says the scarlet badges violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that keeps students’ educational records private, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees that people be treated equally. 
One junior named Jordan Pickett, who missed classes due to her severe anemia, says her red badge singles her out. “I have to go down to Phoenix to do doctor visits and all that, so I miss a lot of days of school because of it,” she told AZ Family. 
Pickett’s friend Jonah Ray also wears a red badge. “Upperclassmen who are missing any credit whatsoever, any credit, are immediately slapped with a red card,” said Ray, according to AZ Family. “I said, ‘I like to study history.’ And a kid immediately chimed in saying, ‘You like to study, then why do you have a red card? That must mean you’re stupid or something.'”
In the fall, reported AZ Family, the teens unsuccessfully argued their case against badges during a school board meeting.
Should the blunt direct disrespectful approach be limited to children?
Or should the blunt direct disrespectful approach be limited to adults, who more often have a choice about their activities?
Or should the blunt direct disrespectful approach be tossed completely and not used with anyone ever again?
Public scorn is probably not the best way to go. Children are special cases in my opinion. They should not be bullied or insulted for poor results. High school can be difficult enough. I know a few people who are still irritated by high school experiences decades after the fact. But on the other hand people who are too tolerant of low performance tend to receive more low performance.

How do you see this?

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