The most adorable befuddlement comes over non-educators when the subject of student learning or behavior is brought up.
It’s completely understandable. Many of them have rose-damaged memories of their own school years – teachers wielding yardsticks, parents spanking and grounding, and a pervasive respect/terror of any and all authority figures. It's a wonder we haven't raised an entire generation of serial killers if even half these recollections are true.
Then again, it would explain a great deal about Trump’s rise to power. A wider tie and some day-old stubble and he's everyone’s caricature of “terrifying-but-largely-incoherent principal.” Generally avoided at all cost, he was just what you needed when schoolyard bullies were about to pummel you. It restored order to your universe to see his furies periodically directed at your oppressors... however similar his tactics were to theirs in retrospect.
Nowadays, though, it seems educators and pedagogical trend-setters are more interested in wooing impressionable young squirrels to daintily learn-out-of-their-hands, instead of putting on their big-teacher panties and really educating those little turds - right up a tree if need be! My god, no wonder we have a nation of wimps – we used to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic; now we just share our feelings, learn about evolution and why everyone should be gay, then go back to talking about our feelings again.
Restorative justice, expanded support services, all manner of training over different learning styles and emotional needs – it must seem ridiculous compared to hazy constructs of our own past.
Whatever the reality of your own “dear old Golden Rule days,” brute force is not merely an ethically questionable classroom strategy in the 21st century – it simply doesn’t work. We can debate it on principle, but realistically… it’s just not realistic.
Consider the things you think you found motivating as a child. Were you afraid of what your parents would say if your grades dropped or you got in trouble at school? That’s certainly a factor for some students today, but not all of them. Not always even most of them. I’ll spare you the sob stories – they tend to be outliers anyway – but life is complicated enough that “wait until your parents find out” simply isn’t a Top Five Concern for many kids. Thus, it’s not a big motivator.