From Naughty to Good: Owning My Behaviour — Catherine Garrett, Scotch College, Australia

  • Pedagogical Approaches (2011-12)

Giving sanctions, such as detentions or withholding privileges, is a standard approach to managing poor behaviour in schools, but is it effective? Do the same boys continue to “feature” on detention lists? How effective are school discipline policies in changing behaviour? Could the concept of restorative justice, coupled with strategies that involve boys in empathy-building activities, be a worthwhile approach in helping boys to own their behaviour?

The author was concerned about the apparent ineffectiveness of school sanctions to change unacceptable behaviour in her boys. She embarked, therefore, on an action research study that focused on the use of restorative justice as a means by which boys could examine and understand the effect their behaviour had on those around them. From the insight gained, she hoped to help boys overcome poor behaviour. The author included role-play as part of the strategy and combined restorative practice conversations, both one-on-one and in a small group, within the structure of the existing discipline policy of Scotch College. Although the research was focused on one student who had been receiving detentions, this first cycle of action research began a process by which the author could better understand how best to help young boys own their behaviour.