Punishments & Homework: Unraveled!

Are punishments and homework required to enhance the learning of the students? Do they have a negative effect on them? Ms. Varsha Prasad (theteacher.in), captures the views of Mrs. Priya D’souza, a faculty member of Mary Immaculate Girls’ Primary School, Mumbai, where she teaches English, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science to the students of grade IV.
Mrs. D’souza has an impressive experience of 22 years in the field of teaching and holds a degree in Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education. She is amongst one of the few who turn their passion into their occupation; she absolutely adores teaching. 

1.  In this technologically advanced world, information is available at the fingertips. How can the teachers go out of the box (syllabus) to make the class interesting and informative?
We must first accept that even in this technologically advanced world, there are children who still aren’t tech savvy. Let me give you the example from the school I teach. We cater to the weaker economic section of the society too. They have no access to technology other than in school. Keeping these children in mind is very important. Generalising the students in the same category as the others is wrong. So we have to do our bit of teaching even if few students are already aware of the topics.
Speaking about making classes interesting, teachers can organise competitions, quizzes and skits based on the lessons in the syllabus. This will involve the child’s participation and at the same time encourages the child to learn something.
2.  Do the students ask for more information on a particular topic in class?                     
Yes, but there are exceptions too. Children are very smart these days. As teachers we must accept and anticipate Students who ask questions just to test the teacher’s knowledge. There are very few who clarify doubts and ask questions out of interest and curiosity.
3.  Are these questions asked by students encouraging?
Oh yes, they are very encouraging! I personally feel very happy to answer the questions asked by my students. It is a way in which I can learn more and explain in a way they understand.
4.  Is homework tailored to meet the varied abilities and interest of children?
Yes. We follow the Cumulative Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) method. Under this method of evaluation, no homework is given as it is considered to be a burden for the child. But we do give some work to do at home when the child has a long holiday or during weekends.
5.  With both parents working these days, do they feel homework puts a lot of pressure on them?
Yes. It is a burden to most of the parents who work. But there are few who encourage the teachers to give homework so that the child practices at home. Even though some of the parents think of it as a burden, they should set some time aside for their children. Throughout the year we teachers evaluate the child on various aspects. With regard to science, we show experiments and explain few things. But it is also the parents’ responsibility to teach the child at home and not solely depend on the teachers at school.
6.  Do the children do their homework for the sake of it or learning experiences or do they take the concept of homework for granted?
I honestly think most of the children do it just for the sake of it. Let me give you an example.  I teach class 4 which has 60 students. Only 5-6 among them do their homework out of sheer interest while the rest do it just to avoid penalty. This is where activity based learning works better and engages them.
7.  Does homework affect a child’s attitude towards school?  Do they resent coming to school due to homework?
No, homework alone doesn’t affect a child’s attitude towards school. There are many activities in school which are enjoyable, be it sports or other cultural activities. These activities are more appealing to a child than missing school for not doing homework.
8.  Is there any effective method to make homework appealing?
Yes, there are many ways to make homework appealing. One way is giving objective questions as homework. Objective questions are included in the curriculum and the teachers are advised to give more preference to them as they are more appealing than subjective kind of questions. If this is incorporated, the child might enjoy doing the homework.
9.  Speaking about penalty and punishments, are they still valid in the present scenario?
No. The concept of punishment and penalty is not valid. Nowadays, rules are implemented against corporal punishments or scolding a student.  I think punishment at a minimal level is required. If a child commits a minor mistake, we should handle it in class. But if the mistake is very severe, it can be reported to the principal for further action.
10.  What is generally a teacher’s perception of punishment?
As mentioned earlier, corporal punishment is against rules. But while handling a class of 60 odd students, raising the voice at the children becomes necessary at one point of time. Else there will be chaos and no discipline in the class.  Punishment according to me is making a child understand the mistake and correcting it then and there.
11.  Now with punishments being banned in the severe sense, what are the kinds of reinforcements used to achieve the right behaviour?
Children these days take things seriously if it is related to their annual marks or performance.
So we do make use of few methods,
a. Remarks in the calendar
b. Raising the voice in a manner that the child takes the teacher seriously and at the same time incorporates the right behaviour.
c. Threatening the child in terms of marks.
The last method is working a lot, as the children these days are afraid of having red marks in their worksheets and yearly calendar.