The Educational Implications of Theories of Punishment

By | February 1, 2017

The three theories of punishment – retributive, reform and deterrent- attempt at classifying the outcome expected through punishment. It is also a kind of justification for the infliction of punishment.

Educational implications: Retribution and Reform

* Retributive punishment responsibly given and responsibly received is likely to be a kind of catharsis.

* There is however the possibility that in the case of a bully ( a maladjusted child) the efficacy of retributive punishment could be lost. The bully may misinterpret the moral mentor’s resentment as a mere personal attack by a bigger man. This would then block the way for real reform.

* Sometimes retributive punishment which is intended as an expression of moral indignation may not convey anything to the guilty person if he strongly believes that he was always in the right. Here retributive punishment given by a teacher without a careful consideration of the ‘deed’ could produce negative results.

* There is also a kind of illogicality in retributive punishment . One may throw acid on the face of another and may be punished. But is it possible to proportion the suffering of punishment to the wrong done? Further can the facial disfiguration of the injured party be lessened in any way by punishing? This implies that the selection of the right punishment as retribution becomes very difficult for the teacher.

* The ultimate purpose of retribution is to make the child understand that punishment is given to make him reform and repent. Here one may be tempted to ask: ” Why not try some other way out than inflict pain? Wouldn’t it be better if the teacher advices the child and gives extra learning task which has an utility value?”

Educational implication: Deterrent Punishment

* Deterrent punishment appears simple and utilitarian and could be used by the teacher to ensure punctuality, tidiness etc.

* It is possible for the teacher to justify the use of deterrent punishment if his ultimate aim is to get nuisances out of the way and develop in the child a sense of personal responsibility.

* However the teacher has to be discreet in the use of deterrent punishment on individuals who are prone to question authority. If the teacher persists in conditioning fear, such individuals may turn cynics adept at avoiding detection. They may even put on a false show of virtuousness and become undisciplined the moment control is removed.

* Deterrent punishment even emphases that if a boy is caught telling a lie, he must be punished so that other boys may not tell lies in the future . Here one could very well

ask : “Is it right to punish one boy in order that the morals of others may be improved?”

So far I have focused on retributive/reform punishment and deterrent punishment by emphasizing the irrationality involved in punishing the child. Incidentally, the Behaviourists believe that “…. Punishment should not be employed by teachers because students will soon learn to avoid the sources of punishment and may generate anger and fear reactions to people, places or things associated with punishment”

[Harold E. Mitzel (ed) Encyclopaedia of Educational Research (1941) Macmillan Publishing Company, New York: 1982 Vol 2 P 904]

But if the teacher still persists on making use of any of the three types of punishment it may do him good if he follows a simple formula PUNISH

P- Personal History … Is the offender one prone to mischief?

U- Utility Value of punishment…Will it reform the offender?

N-Is it really Necessary…. ( It could be circumstances that made the child commit

the offence)

I – The teacher should be Impartial

S- Select the type of punishment from a wide range

H- Be Humane in administering. Ultimate good of the offending individual should

be kept in view.

Source by Chandrasekharan Praveen

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