|Title of Submission:||Strike Four! An Educational Paradigm Servicing Troublesome Behaviour Students|
|Affiliation:||Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley Campus, Perth, W.Australia|
Until very recently traditional education was exclusive rather
than inclusive. Many young people were denied the right to be
educated in the mainstream. Instead they were serviced in separate
special centers or institutions or denied an education through
time-out, suspension or expulsion process. The issue of young
people's rights has fuelled this initiative. Troublesome behaviour
students have however been largely left out of recent initiatives.
Many still face exclusion through internal school behaviour management
The social ramifications of exclusion have been seen to be disastrous (Heward and Orlansky, 1992; Olsom and Platt, 1996; Stainback and Stainback, 1996). Through exclusion in education, exclusion from full participation in the larger society was endorsed. On this way many young people failed to acquire necessary skills for independent adult living, the opportunity to establish friendships with non-excluded individuals was denied, and their permanent exclusion reinforced. Rather than focus on their differences "Exceptional children are [now seen to be] more like other children than they are different" (Heward and Orlansky, 1992, p.9). Through this process, children previously marginalised through racial, ethnic, mental, physical, communication and severe behavioural differences have the right to a place in mainstream education.
One group however is still denied access to full and appropriate education. These young people are denied the right to attend class and school through internal school behaviour management policies. Many of these young people have no measurable disorder, however they are excluded if they are perceived to be interfering with curriculum driven instruction, thereby depriving others who want to learn of their right to an education. Most time-out, suspension and exclusion policies merely remove the offending individual from the classroom environment so that curriculum driven instruction can proceed. These young people return to the classroom disadvantaged, having missed chunks of their education. This in turn has repercussions on classroom behaviours as regularly excluded people tend to have learning deficits. As stated by Morgan:
Unless they are diagnosed as disabled by the most stringent criteria, these children are not formally categorised with labels for which money has been earmarked to help cure. Yet they are in school, day after day, struggling with issues that would arouse anxiety and challenge the sanity of even the strongest adults. (Morgan,1994, p.4)
Strike Four! is a set of practices and strategies being developed for servicing at-risk, alienated and troublesome behaviour students. The paradigm seeks to address the "three strikes and you're out" policy that sees troublesome students marginalised and excluded. The paradigm pivots on the notion that the young person is not the sole miscreant in their failure to achieve and behave in mainstream education. It recognises that appropriate opportunities are not always available in the current context.
Strike Four! employs shaping
tools endorsing retention of all students in the learning environment
while addressing behaviours that would normally result in exclusion,
encouraging acceptance of personal responsibility for actions
and choices while endorsing self-empowerment as a force driving
and shaping the educational environment and curriculum. The program
seeks to positively affect the modus operandi of the students
and encourage a move from success based on socially discouraged
skills, to success grounded in socially endorsed choices and actions.
The Strike Four! initiative
addresses inappropriate behaviours in the classroom as an integral
part of the literacy, numeracy and general curriculum.
The programs strategies are currently being critically examined to ascertain which strategies, in any, are successfully modifying the modus operandi of the young people and if these strategies have transportability into other contexts.
At the onset of the twentieth century, education was seen to be a privilege. Children had few rights and the teacher's toolbox for shaping behaviour included such practices as caning, belittling, fear inducement and exclusion. Fear is a powerful tool for shaping behaviour and in many cases was effective. In the mid-twentieth century there was a significant shift in the education mandate. The drive for children's rights meant that all children were seen as deserving education and corporal punishment, belittling and fear were removed from the teacher's toolbox. Time-out, suspension and expulsion replaced these practices. Whilst these tools are effective in giving the teacher time-out from the offending individual, the effect of changing student inappropriate behaviours were minimal at best. If labelled "troublesome", students find themselves blamed when not responsible, missing chunks of education, falling behind or failing. Once caught in the martyr, scapegoat and revolving door syndrome, young people find it difficult to reverse the process and alter teacher perception.
As Strike Four! is a paradigm designed to retain troublesome behaviour student in the classroom, it is currently trialing various pro-active strategies. A variety of tools are being developed using such paradigm such as , literacy and numeracy curricula that can be brought to play at critical moments to address behaviours, an ethos document to shape behaviours, various conflict resolution models and strategies bringing into play various social mechanisms such as peer group pressure for positive purposes.
The presenter is the paradigm designer, researcher, coordinator and a lecturer on the programs being presented. Data has been collected using a critical qualitative approach relying on case studies, conflict resolution documents, incident reports, other lecturer reports, youth work student feedback and diary entries collected over the past three years. All case studies will use composite characters and pseudonyms to maintain anonymity of participants.
As the paradigm has been designed by the presenter, it seemed appropriate to include the paradigm perspective. The paradigm recognises that strain resulting from discrepancy between middle class, vocabulary, morality, manners, anger management and recreational activities and the student's out-of-school life, negates the notion of school as an even playing field. This discrepancy may even explain the student's classification as "troublesome" within the middle class environment, yet the young person's behaviours, spoken form of English and manners may be totally appropriate to both their home and future workplace.
Whilst the paradigm is still in development, successes have been recorded. The paradigm has been in development for three years. In 1995 13/15 students were placed in work and marked improvement in attendance was noted. Introduction of The Ethos Document, the truancy policy and the conflict resolution models resulted in better results in 1996 and 1997. In 18\996 and 1997 100% attendance was achieved on nineteen week programs with chronic truants. All students in the 1996 and 1997 group were successfully placed in apprenticeships, work or technical college. A post-support program of three months provided support in the period of transition to the workplace. The 1995 and 1996 students were all still in their placements three months down the track. The VIP program, a twenty three week program utilising the Strike Four! paradigm is in its eights week. It services category three alienated students (only those young people perceived by the Education Department to be unable to be serviced on the school site). A number of new strategies have been introduced on this program. The program looks like repeating the success of past programs implementing the paradigm.
Whilst the Strike Four! paradigm
does not claim to be a panacea, it is trialing new ways to offer
service, both in and out of mainstream, to young people caught
in the revolving door syndrome. Many of these young people have
come to view school as a hostile environment. The severity and
frequency f juvenile crime is increasing. We have youth unemployment
figures of 20%. At the same time the rights of children have attained
new importance. One of these rights is that of a full and appropriate
education. This issue needs to be addressed so that all young
people can be adequately serviced with positive, appropriate,
retentive educational programs. This is the cheapest point to
service these young people. Through the programs these young people
have developed positive strategies for managing their unacceptable
behaviours, positive attitudes to legitimate employment and skills
to succeed. Many of these young people were offered jobs on work
experience based on their performance in the workplace. I see
this as a type of external examination of their new behaviours
and skills. These young people moved from being a drain on community
resources to contributing to those resources.
Programs of this sort pay off. Our past students are not on unemployment
benefits, they are nor incarcerated for stealing and vandalism,
they are employed and proving to be positive role models to their
families and peers. Many of their parents, siblings and peers
have approached us since these programs began. We have moved these
parents on to appropriate courses, got jobs for siblings and found
places on other programs for friends.
The spin-offs cannot be simply measured by the improvement to the lives of the young people on these programs, as whole communities are affected by the vision of better futures.
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email: email@example.com Created: 16-November-1997 ...Last updated: 27-April-1998 URL: http://members.optusnet.com.au/~artmarx/sandiego.htm