Opinion Column


Teacher’s approach to discipline was inappropriate and ineffective

By Laila Yuile, City Hall



Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on government surveillance was Laila Yuile with 67%.

This week’s topic: Should a Vancouver teacher have been disciplined for students’ mouths being shut with duct tape?

After reading Brent’s column this week, I’m happy he’s here duelling me, and not in charge of B.C.’s education system. While he makes two exceptional points about the value of effective teachers and the attitude of many of today’s teens, he misses the mark completely on the value of duct tape as a teaching aid.

Sir Winston Churchill teacher Margo Anne Fowler’s students and peers all agree she is a respected and effective teacher. However, if one takes the time to review the comments given to the press by her own students in regards to the three separate incidents, it’s clear that her attempts at disciplining disruptive students — in which their mouths were taped shut — were failures.

Read Brent Stafford's Column

When interviewed by the press, some of her students said they didn’t take the discipline seriously, and that it was more like a joke to them. One student even posted a photo to Facebook. They are laughing about it and many don’t even think Fowler should have received a warning.

Clearly, what Brent applauds as an innovative form of punishment was not only inappropriate, it was ineffective. Choosing your own punishment doesn’t happen in any part of the adult world, where laws and career expectations are rigid and clearly established. The sooner kids learn that, the better.

I agree there are extraordinary amounts of youth today who feel entitled, think they can do no wrong, and should have the world handed to them on a silver platter. That comes from irresponsible parenting and a lack of consequences for actions, both of which lead to a lack of respect for authority — often in the classroom. Faced with rules and strict guidelines after never having to account for their actions, many kids just laugh. Of course it’s frustrating for teachers, but duct tape isn’t the answer.

Every school has a code of conduct and it is the school’s responsibility to ensure their students are aware of that code. These codes are clear on what disciplinary measures may be taken for breaking the rules. Teachers must establish a clear set of expectations with their students at the beginning of every year, make the consequences for not meeting those expectations clear, and enforce them. Classroom discipline shouldn’t be something students laugh and joke about, it should be something they strive to avoid at all costs.

Sorry Brent, duct tape only makes for yet another “micro-celebrity” moment on Facebook.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.


Who wins this week's duel on classroom discipline?

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