When kids misbehave or even just don’t follow through on their responsibilities, some sort of consequence needs to be administered. Missing recess, staying after school, even being sent to the dreaded Principal’s Office — these are all common, accepted punishments for such crimes against humanity as talking back to a teacher, running in the halls, or not turning in an assignment. At Willard Grade Center School in Ada, Oklahoma, a fifth- and sixth-grade only school, they’ve come up with a new and unusual punishment. Kids are made to spend recess standing next to school building, facing the wall.
Amy Caton didn’t think that was an appropriate punishment for her 12-year-old son Jonathon after he failed to turn in a homework assignment. “I think it’s publicly humiliating and disgusting to stick your face on a wall. It’s not productive punishment,” she said. She kept Jonathon home for a week after she was unable to reach an agreement with the principal on alternatives to the wall. “I didn’t feel comfortable sending him back,” explained Caton, “and he was a little intimidated because he’d heard my disagreement with the principal.”
Jonathon Caton is back in school now, but his mother is still deciding whether or not to raise the issue before the school board. She was told that the school’s policy would be re-evaluated. I have to agree with Ms. Caton — I can’t see how standing against a wall, with your friends playing behind you, would be productive. It would certainly be humiliating. I think there are other, less public consequences that would not only have better results, but would avoid getting parents upset as well.