The story in the news of how schools in the UK are bribing unruly pupils not to truant with iPods not only shows how out of control young people are but also how out of control the methods being employed to try and get these youngsters to behave are becoming.
Five hundred schools in the UK are offering iPods to pupils as a bribe to prevent truancy.
The basic message seems to be, if you don’t skip school you can have this brand new iPod.
What this news story really raises is whether bribery is the right way to get children to do something.
I think without question, the offer of an iPod is going to at least get some tearaway children to attend school, if only for a short while.
Children are not stupid, they are going to see this as quite a fair exchange for their presence on school territory for a change.
In this sense this is not such a hair-brained scheme as it first appears. But at the same time, surely this is completely the wrong message to be giving to children – to get your way you have to offer something worthwhile in return.
It should be enough that a child wants to attend school in order to get an education. For a lot of children this is no incentive at all. There are a proportion of children who are not academically minded and so find lessons a real challenge, while truancy can also be down to peer pressure. It is simply not cool to attend school.
What this iPod incentive is not going to breed is respect for the school teachers. I can hear the children in the playground now – I will of course edit the language somewhat – “what mugs our teachers are. I’ve got this brand new iPod for turning up at school and all I’m gonna do is stay for a few lessons and then I’m out of here. One step ahead of those teachers, that’s what I am.”
With teachers appearing essentially foolish in the eyes of pupils, the lack of discipline in schools is surely going to sink to an all time low.
And how about the well-behaved pupils who would never dream of truanting. It’s not fair that they have to watch on as their unruly classmates listen to their iPods – probably in class – “Well you gave it to me. You’re now telling me I can’t listen to it in school”, the little hooligan will mouth back to the teacher.
It’s difficult to know quite how schools are ever going to clamp down on issues of truancy when a lot of youngsters simply do not care but bribing them surely can’t be the answer?