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Different cultural perspectives on punishment in Malaysian schools

Discuss The Effects Of Punishment And Its Implication On Teachers When Handling Disciplinary Issues In A Culturally Diverse Nation Like Malaysia.

This paper presents the different issues pertaining punishment and learning in schools. The paper begins by clearly defining the concept of punishment. Different cultures have different perceptions of punishment, especially in learning institutions. The focus, in this case, is on the Malaysian perspective, and the view of teachers on the same. Corporal punishment remains an issue of consideration, and different reasons have also been provided, based on whether the practice should be eliminated or not. The primary goal of punishment is to invoke fear and to ensure that the behavior in question does not occur again. The perspective of punishment in schools in Malaysia is different as compared to generalized global views. Different cultures have different perspectives and ways of viewing various aspects. Punishment in schools seems to be ineffective, and an unacceptable method, especially in the maintenance of behavior and discipline. It is, therefore, essential to note that discipline in schools does not only depend on nonviolent responses but skills exhibited by trained teachers.

Punishment refers to the imposition of an undesirable outcome on an individual, with the goal of responding to a specific deterrent behavior. Punishment is in most cases, meted out by a specific authority, and ranges from child discipline to criminal law (Bootzin et al. 2016). The unpleasant outcomes may vary and include confinement, penalties, and fines.

Children are affected both positively and negatively by punishment in schools. For example, harmful effects of physical punishment may last from childhood to adulthood (Nichols & Newman, 2016). Punishment is believed to dehumanize students in different learning institutions. Punishment is also a violation of fundamental human rights to equal protection of children under the law (Cicognani, 2014). Children are expected to be protected, and disciplined in more humane and very reasonable modes, whether in schools or at home. Punishment in school leads to lower intellectual achievements, considering that in some cases, some students may end up suffering from mental health problems. Therefore, the abolition of corporate punishment in learning institutions has been advocated for in different platforms. Physical punishment to be specific needs to be banned in all nations. Positive effects of punishment on children in schools include the fact that if children are not subjected to punishment, they are bound to end up developing unmanageable behaviors in the long run (Coon, 2011). At the same time, teachers and parents hold on to the belief that if children are punished in schools, they are bound to concentrate on learning and respect authority in the most effective manner. Punishment is, therefore, regarded as a tool of instilling discipline and facilitating learning in education facilities. However, teachers are keen also to point out that it is a source of aggressiveness among students.

Effects of punishment on students in schools

The education philosophy embraced in Malaysia is based on the concentration of human development. Therefore, human development is the primary focus in education, as well as different policies and ideologies which have been developed over time (Nairne, 2012). Corporal punishment is commonly practiced in some schools across the globe. The primary objective is in most cases, to focus on mentorship for the students, and not to necessarily impose harm on any occasion. Students in most cases, enter schools with disciplinary issues (Feldman, 2015). Basing consideration on the death of an eleven-year-old boy from Malaysia, most policymakers are still debating on whether abuse is eminent in most punishment strategies imposed by teachers, and whether corporal punishment should be allowed to dominate the education sector. Corporal punishment in Malaysian schools remains a very controversial issue of discussion when it comes to disciplining children. For some parents, the practice of beating is upheld, in the name of ‘love’ (Gazzaniga, 2013).

Various cultural issues are present in the Malaysian context, when it comes to punishment in schools, including femininity. In most schools, girls are considered inherently obedient as compared to the males.  He Malaysian culture considers that females are more submissive, as compared to the males and should at no point, be subjected to beating (Gershoff, 2012). Boys, on the other hand, are considered to be hardened, and should always have the ability to accept physical punishment and handle any form of reasonable pain (Murphy et al. 2010). In Malaysia, students have embraced the importance of corporal punishment. Most students believe that sparing the rod will end up increasing the cases of disobedience and other forms of indiscipline. In Malaysia, children are allowed to first, receive a warning before they are punished for any offense which has been committed. This is because reasoning has been considered a privilege and a right at the same time (Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment to Children, 2009). Caning, therefore, is not worshiped in the Malaysia cultural context, an issue that teachers have had to adjust to for an extended period now.

Teachers face two fundamental disciplinary issues when dealing with the punishment of students in the Malaysian context. First, the education policy is focused on economic and personal development. Therefore, students and institution management views learning as an act to be closer to the creator. With this in mind, punishment and harm are to be wholly ruled out. Student etiquette is at its best, but indiscipline often goes unpunished in most cases. The learning policies also emphasize on good behavior, which makes it easier for the teachers to emphasize on ethical conduct and doing well for others (Kail, 2006). Another disciplinary issue faced by teachers from the Malaysian perspective has to do with behavioral perspectives which have been embraced by the Malaysian people. Punishment and extinction are considered to be the most effective methods when it comes to decreasing a response especially among students (Kail, 2006).

The education philosophy embraced in Malaysia

In Malaysia, the elimination of rewards, which is considered positive reinforcement, is highly emphasized. Most cultures believe in positive rewards as a way of encouraging discipline. However, discipline in Malaysian context is considered a developmental norm, and rewards are only motivated by exemplary performance in schools (Curthrow, 2012). Malaysia is also made up of different individuals from different backgrounds, which displays the presence of diverse cultures. Teachers face the challenge of identifying what works well for different cultures, and what ought to be avoided to avoid further confrontation and harm which may be directed towards children. Therefore, teachers face the problem of adjusting, to fulfill different requirements in their course of duty.

Conclusion

Based on the problem in question, the issue of punishment should be handled more proactively. Schools need to embrace employment of counselors, who will help enhance positive teacher-student relationships. Students need to be made aware of the goodwill teachers have especially in case disciplinary action is imposed on them. At the same time, teachers need to be able to relate well with students, for increased moral responsibility especially in learning institutions. Self-management also needs to be promoted within the schools, to impose control, especially for the younger children. With these issues in consideration, students will end up liking school, subjects, and their teachers. Dropouts in the Malaysian education system will also be reduced, which will increase education and learning efficiency. Timeout strategies can also be used to maintain discipline in classrooms, rather than resulting in corporal punishment. Timeout involves a method where the student is removed from the prevailing situation and left to reflect and meditate on the offending behavior. In my view, these different strategies should be implemented, to boost discipline in learning institutions and focus on better correction methods rather than adverse punishment strategies.

References

Arif, M.S & Rafi, M.S. (2007). Effects of Corporal Punishment and Psychological Treatment on  Students Learning and Behavior. Journal of Theory and Practice in Education 3(2), 171          180

Bernstein, D.A & Nash, P.W. (2012). Essentials for psychology (2nd ed). Boston; Houghton Mifflin Company.

Bootzin, R.R., Bower, G.H., Zajonc, R.B., & Hall, E. (2016). Psychology today” an introduction (6th ed).New York: McGraw-Hill publishers

Cicognani, L. (2014)To Punish Or Discipline? Teacher’s Attitudes towards the Abolition of Corporal Punishment.Johannesburg

Coon ,D. (2011). Introduction to Psychology: Gate Ways to Mind and Behavior (9th Ed).London: Wadsworth.

Feldman, R. (2015). Essentials of Understanding Psychology (6th Ed. New York: Mcgraw Hill Companies, Inc

Gazzaniga, M.S. (2013). Psychological Science: Mind Brain and Behavior. New York: W.W Norton and Company.

Gershoff, E.T. (2012). Corporal Punishment by Parents and Associated Child Behavior.Psychological Bulletin, 128 (4), 539-579

Global Iniative to End All Corporal Punishment to Children. (2009). Ensuring The Dignity Of The Child Prohibiting All Corporal Punishment. 20th Anniversary of the Adoption of the      Convention on the Right to the Child. Geneva

Curthrow, J. (2012). Correlation Between High Rates of Corporal Punishment in Public Schools and Pathologies. Paris: UNESCO

Kail. R.V. (2006). Human Development. New York: Person Education Company.

Kim, S.Y. (2011). Corporal Punishment in School .A review of the pros and cons retrieved in April 19th, 2010 from:   www.acabarcastigo.org/inciatiaglobal/pages/.../EastAsia/pacific2008.pdf

Kosslyn,S.M., & Rosenberg, R.S.(2012). Fundamentals of Psychology: The Brain, The Person, The World: New York: Person Education, Inc

Mason, M.A., & Gambrill, E. (2014). Should The Use of Corporal Punishment By Parents Be  Considered Child Abuse?Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Murphy, L.W., & Virgins, D.J (2010). “Corporal Punishment on Schools and Its Effects on Academic Success. Retrieved in aril 22nd 2010 from https:www..aclu.org/human-rights justice/violent-educaiton-corpora punishment children –us-public schools

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