Question: Dr. Dobson, I have observed that elementary school and junior high school students, even high schoolers, tend to admire the more strict teachers. Why is this true?
Answer: Yes, the teachers who maintain order are often the most respected members of the faculties, provided they aren't mean and grouchy. A teacher who can control a class without being oppressive is almost always loved by her students. One reason is that there is safety in order. When a class is out of control, particularly at the elementary school level, the children are afraid of each other. If the teacher can't make the class behave, how can she prevent a bully from doing his thing? How can she keep the students from ridiculing one of its less able members? Children are not very fair and understanding with each other, and they feel good about having a strong teacher who is.
Second, children love justice. When someone has violated a rule, they want immediate retribution. They admire the teacher who can enforce an equitable legal system and they find great comfort in reasonable social rules. By contrast, the teacher who does not control her class inevitably allows crime to pay, violating something basic in the value system of children.
Third, children admire strict teachers because chaos is nerve-racking. Screaming and hitting and wiggling are fun for about ten minutes; then the confusion begins to get tiresome and irritating.
I have smiled in amusement many times as second-and third-grade children astutely evaluated the relative disciplinary skills of their teachers. They know how a class should be conducted. I only wish all of their teachers were equally aware of this important attribute.
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