Punishment, rather unsettling but another great word that will again take me down the memory lane, as daily prompts have done so far. So let’s get done with this word and start our relaxing weekend.
Punishment, as I have gathered while studying learning theories in Psychology course during my Bachelor degree of Education, should always be positively reinforced if you want a constructive learning or a favorable outcome. But practically, there are only few enlightened minds who manages to work around the margin where punishment can easily leave a negative mark.
All different reinforcement theories we read during that one year course, always remain in books. Never asked or taught to put them in our teaching practices. (You can read the theories on wiki here or google them.)
As far as my personal experience goes, I have always been a, somewhat, careless kid. One who forgets to prepare for a test, or leave homework behind, or be late for school. Many a times I was also punished for things I didn’t do or maybe did unknowingly like giggling on silly jokes amidst class or ended up caught in a bunch of talkative students or a victim of silly acquisitions like she got my pen etc. I never have to experience a bad-bad punishment but I have seen my fellow classmates been victim to them. I think their condition was enough for me to be a good kid.
As I moved in middle school 7th grade, I remember an incident that gave me learning of the lifetime. I have followed it and it had helped me in my confusion since.
So I used to be very active onstage, always participating in group dance or group singing performance for annual fest. It was a week before annual fest. The day when our school Principal would see our month-long preparation. Everybody was at their best behavior. The supervising teachers were mending their groups and keep things going.
For all the singing performances, there was one girl Tina from 11th grade, (Indian schools offer classes from L.K.G to 12th in same campus) who was assisting our music teacher with music on keyboard. Play was performed first, then our dance items. A group song and National Anthem were in line that marks the closure of fest.
Group song went well. But during National Anthem, music went astray and the singers stopped singing in middle. Everyone was confused and supervisor was trying her best to get things straight quickly which wasn’t happening. This was enough to annoy our Principal and she quickly asked music teacher to replace Tina for entire fest.
Just a week left and such a change was terrifying. Finally music teacher asked Tina to leave for the day. Instead of leaving, Tina went to the Principal on stage and told her that she didn’t jumbled up the keys. Somebody passing by got stuck in the wires when she was playing. Everybody calmed down and this time the performance went well.
It was just a small incident but I was amazed by the daring Tina showed. Instead of accepting the “punishment”, which I was accustomed to do till then, she stood up and voiced it wasn’t her fault at first place.
I asked her that how can she even think to approach the Principal and set the records straight in front of whole school. To what she said, “Never be silent if it’s not your mistake and always accept it when it is.” That is it, the golden rule of my life. I learned not from books but from experience. Till date, I never fear to say truth and was never punished for what I haven’t done.
I am looking forward to teach this to my kids too (of course, when I’ll have some :P). Let me know what your experiences have been and how it changed your life.
With a positive memory and happy smile,