Destructive Punishments

As a student teacher there are several things that I see in the parents of today that really bother me. Without having any children of my own, though, there isn’t much that I’m qualified to judge. But there is one issue that I see repeated that really gets under my skin.

From what I can gather, it is to be expected that children will make mistakes, make messes and get into trouble. That’s part of being a kid, and it’s part of parenting to apply appropriate consequence. My question, then, is this.

Why do so many parents punish their children by making them read books?

Allow me a moment to remove any enjoyable factor from reading, and let’s just look at it purely from the academic standpoint.  If you make reading a punishment, then aren’t you just teaching your students that learning is also a punishment?  That school is a punishment?  What if you want to bake a cake?  You have to read the directions there.  So isn’t that also a punishment by extension?

Beyond the academics, though, there is world of wizards, wimpy kids, and cats in hats.  A world of far away lands, and some closer by.  Dinosaurs, fish, and I spy.  Books hold so many joys and excitement.  Thrills, danger, and laughter.  There is so much to explore and experience in books.  So much that I want to give to my children, all made possible by the shelves and shelves of beautifully bound colorful pages holding wonders of the world.

But when I have a student who cries when I hand him a book, or another who asks me why I’m mad at him if I ask him to read, my heart breaks for all the experiences lost to those children.  They see books as an evil created to punish them for mouthing off, hitting their sister, or doing nothing.  Book have lost all their excitement to these children.  They hold no wonder, nothing enjoyable.  Just punishment.

What a painful and destructive punishment.

I am trying to wrap my mind around this.  Why would a parent choose reading as a punishment?  Do they see it as a way to impart academics in down time?  I mean, I guess I can make sense of this logic, except that punishment is not a time to learn about wizards, vampires, and one fish, two fish.  Punishment is a time to reflect on poor choices and bad behaviors.  For me, punishment as a child meant the bathtub.  No water.  No toys.  Nothing to do.  But think.  Think about why I shouldn’t bite the babysitter or tell lies.  It destroyed my good times.  Destroyed my afternoons.  But it did not destroy my passion of discovery of new worlds, new ideas, and exciting rides.

The long term effects of using something so academically, socially, and imaginatively beneficial for children as a punishment is devastating.  I just can’t comprehend it.  If I’m missing something, please, let me know!

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Published in: on 05.08.2011 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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