Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Difference Between Punishment and Consequences

After much reading and thought on this issue, I've finally come to the conclusion that punishments and negative consequences are not necessarily synonymous. While punishment might be a consequence of an undesired behavior, a consequence isn't always a punishment. For example, if my child doesn't study for an important test, a possible consequence is that he will make a failing grade. I can take it a step further and decide to punish him by taking away privileges such as games or television.

After reading this article (and quite a few others) about the difference between punishment and consequences, I concluded that a lot of it really is determined by the intent of the teacher and the way the consequence is doled out. I loved the table that showed precisely what the differences between the two are. Consequences teach, are given with empathy, relate directly to the actual behavior, and teach students to take responsibility for their own choices. Isn't this what we all want?! That's what I'm striving for daily, although I must confess that I often miss the mark. Hopefully, I'm not the only one :) Punishments are about controlling behavior and are often arbitrary. They leave students feeling helpless and focus on the actual punishment rather than the student's choices.

The same result could be either a punishment or a consequence depending on how it is delivered. So, in real-life, practical classroom application it would like like this:

Infraction: Child avoids doing work
Punishment: "You're not doing your work again! No break today!"
Consequence: "Are you using your time wisely? You have a choice. It is very important that you finish your work during the allotted class time or it will have to be finished during break."


Infraction: Child blurts out or talks over others
Punishment: "Stop shouting out! That's a conduct mark for you."
Consequence: "It isn't your turn to talk right now. Everyone has the right to learn, and when you shout out answers it disrupts other people's thinking. That shows disrespect to your classmates. Please work on being more respectful." (in this case the consequence is actually a talk from the teacher, but it directs the student to think about others, focusing on his/her behavior.)

While both the punishments and the consequences in the above examples might be considered "negative" depending on the personality of the child, there is a HUGE difference in the thought process behind them and the results of each one.

So, Consequences or Punishment? That depends on what the teacher is trying to teach the child--to have self-control and make good decisions, or to do as he's told or else. I know what I'm striving for.

6 comments:

  1. I was doing some research on the difference between punishment and reward for a blog post so this was really useful. I was glad to see you came to the same conclusion. It's seems a lot to do with intent. I also concluded that punishments should be consigned to the educational dustbin of history.

    Like the blog! I'll be dropping by again.

    Greg

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  2. Thanks for the comment, Greg. I'll be dropping by your blog, too!

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  3. Hi, I found your blog when reading a post by Pernille Ripp on this subject.

    I would like to see the table you refer to comparing punishment to consequences, but the link leads to an error. I guess I will try again later.

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  4. Thanks for letting me know about the broken link, Tim. I fixed it. Glad you stopped by my blog!

    Farrah

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  5. consequence is the result of an action made, while punishment is the negative reward of a doing. but your conclusion is apparent. it depend on the superman above the rule to guide. but take the bible for a case study consequence and punishment are assign by God, will it make it related.

    ReplyDelete
  6. consequence is the result of an action made, while punishment is the negative reward of a doing. but your conclusion is apparent. it depend on the superman above the rule to guide. but take the bible for a case study consequence and punishment are assign by God, will it make it related.

    ReplyDelete

 

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