Be Good in Class or You’re Kicked off the Soccer Team!
Recently I read about a teacher that is linking class behavior (including bad work ethic) of her soccer players, a school team, with the opportunity to be on the team. She told other teachers in the school the following, “If your student plays on my team and they are misbehaving in class, I will remove that student from the team.” The players were told, “If I get a report from your teachers about bad behavior, you will be removed from the team.” In sum, a player’s behavior in school is directly linked to his/her right to be on the team.
After reading the article and thinking about this proposition, I submit there are many things wrong with this. Here are a few questions and thoughts:
Soccer is being used as a reward and punishment- if behavior in class is good you are on the team, if it is bad, you are off. Why the manipulation? What is going on in class if a student is misbehaving? Is the student bored? Why are students being bribed by soccer to behave? Is the school work not worth doing? Is this bribery affecting his or her desire to learn? Alfie Kohn notes, “Both rewards and punishments are ways of manipulating behavior that destroy the potential for real learning.“
I also think of the coach. Why is the coach using her soccer team as a way of disciplining students for other teachers? Those teachers should be building better relationships with his/her students, not getting the coach to “discipline” his/her students. And if the coach has to kick a player off the team, does it not damage the relationship that the coach has with that child?
I believe that sports should be unto itself. The teacher that is having problems with a student in class should work with that student to find the problem, not use something that the student loves to do and take it from them. Indeed, as Alfie Kohn noted, “Punishment by any name, even consequences, ruptures the safe and caring alliance that must be nourished between teacher and student.”
Check out what Alfie Kohn has to say about punishment: