I recently read a story, which quite frankly shocked me, both as a parent and an educational professional.
In brief an 11 year old was unable to join her friends for a special end-of-year treat for pupils who had a 100% attendance record. This child had missed one day to attend her mother’s funeral.
Please read her full story.
I have never been a fan of rewards for 100% attendance at school or work, be they certificates or treats, as this creates a culture of shaming those who haven’t achieved full attendance. There will be a variety of reasons for absence, for example a virus, a long term medical condition, or a sensitive personal issue. It is outright discrimination, creates divisions and can make some children feel under pressure to attend.
It can also lead to children becoming ‘people pleasers’. Yes, attending school is important, but children and parents should not feel they are in a competition to attend.
In Brene Brown’s international, thought provoking, best-selling book ‘Daring Greatly – How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead’, Brene asks a series of reflective questions that I feel are important for schools and work places to discuss as teams, such as: ‘What behaviours are rewarded and punished and how prevalent is blame and shame?’
One can clearly see that in this school there is a culture of reward and indirect punishing, blaming and shaming of pupils and parents. Whether it is done intentionally or not, it is still the case that it is done.
It was refreshing to read that the school has now stopped this policy – and rightly so.
I would recommend that heads and employers read Brene’s book to identify and then modify their culture, values and organisational behaviour, enabling them to understand the emotional impact they have on an individual’s current and long term emotional well-being.
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