Writing is not punishment

As a former English teacher, I get a bit territorial when I hear people using my content area as a punishment. Why do we think writing sentences is a way to discipline children? What if I suggested we assign math problems to students who misbehave? I don’t think we should turn math into punishment, and I don’t think we should do that to writing, either. Still, I frequently run into teachers and students who participate in this outdated system.

As far back as 1984, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) issued a resolution against such practices:

Background
This resolution stemmed from concern among teachers of English about research findings showing continued widespread use of writing as punishment by teachers and administrators in elementary and secondary schools. Using writing for punishment, NCTE members warned, distorts the principles and defeats the purposes of instruction in this important life skill and causes students to dislike an activity necessary to their intellectual development and career success. Be it therefore

Resolution
Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English condemn punitive writing assignments;

that NCTE discourage teachers, administrators, and others from making a punishment of such writing as copywork, sentence repetition, original paragraphs and themes, and other assignments which inhibit desired attitudes and essential communication skills; and

that NCTE disseminate this opinion to the appropriate audiences, including the general public.

Instead of collecting strategies for issuing punitive consequences, consider finding corrective consequences instead. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, “Punish-Based Discipline Does Not Improve School Safety, Learning or Behavior.” Check that link for some great information.

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