“When it comes to disciplining young people, teachers are winging it,” discovers the radio talk show This American Life in their episode called ‘Is This Working?’ aired recently. The show takes a critical look at classroom discipline in schools across the United States, revealing a deep lack of training and knowledge of recent tools among teachers and administrators who struggle to deal with student misbehaviour.
The program is divided into three sections. Act One looks at the surprising approaches to discipline for students including suspension even as young as pre-school. Act Two talks about early charter schools which tried to deal with behaviour issues through stricter policies and the experience of one teacher who had gone through such a system as a child. The final section looks at the practice of Restorative Justice in schools and the use of Circle processes to deal with conflict rather than suspensions.
Hearing first hand from teachers, students, parents and administrators in the stories shared on this program give specific examples of what peacebuilding in schools could look like and how language and communication play a key role in creating healthier classrooms and schools.