Main articles: School discipline and School punishment
Throughout the history of education the most common form of school discipline was corporal punishment. While a child was in school, a teacher was expected to act as a substitute parent, with all the normal forms of parental discipline open to them.
In past times, corporal punishment (spanking or paddling or caning or strapping or birching the student in order to cause physical pain) was one of the most common forms of school discipline throughout much of the world. Most Western countries, and some others, have now banned it, but it remains lawful in the United Statesfollowing a US Supreme Court decision in 1977 which held that paddling did not violate the US Constitution.
30 US states have banned corporal punishment, the others (mostly in the South) have not. It is still used to a significant (though declining) degree in some public schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Private schools in these and most other states may also use it. Corporal punishment in American schools is administered to the seat of the student's trousers or skirt with a specially made wooden paddle. This often used to take place in the classroom or hallway, but nowadays the punishment is usually given privately in the principal's office.
Official corporal punishment, often by caning, remains commonplace in schools in some Asian, African and Caribbean countries. For details of individual countries see School corporal punishment.
Currently detention is one of the most common punishments in schools in the United States, the UK, Ireland, Singapore and other countries. It requires the pupil to remain in school at a given time in the school day (such as lunch, recess or after school); or even to attend school on a non-school day, e.g. "Saturday detention" held at some schools. During detention, students normally have to sit in a classroom and do work, write lines or a punishment essay, or sit quietly.
A modern example of school discipline in North America and Western Europe relies upon the idea of an assertive teacher who is prepared to impose their will upon a class. Positive reinforcement is balanced with immediate and fair punishment for misbehavior and firm, clear boundaries define what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Teachers are expected to respect their students; sarcasm and attempts to humiliate pupils are seen as falling outside of what constitutes reasonable discipline.[verification needed]
Whilst this is the consensus viewpoint amongst the majority of academics, some teachers and parents advocate a more assertive and confrontational style of discipline.Such individuals claim that many problems with modern schooling stem from the weakness in school discipline and if teachers exercised firm control over the classroom they would be able to teach more efficiently. This viewpoint is supported by the educational attainment of countries—in East Asia for instance—that combine strict discipline with high standards of education.
It's not clear, however that this stereotypical view reflects the reality of East Asian classrooms or that the educational goals in these countries are commensurable with those in Western countries. In Japan, for example, although average attainment on standardized tests may exceed those in Western countries, classroom discipline and behavior is highly problematic. Although, officially, schools have extremely rigid codes of behavior, in practice many teachers find the students unmanageable and do not enforce discipline at all.
Where school class sizes are typically 40 to 50 students, maintaining order in the classroom can divert the teacher from instruction, leaving little opportunity for concentration and focus on what is being taught. In response, teachers may concentrate their attention on motivated students, ignoring attention-seeking and disruptive students. The result of this is that motivated students, facing demanding university entrance examinations, receive disproportionate resources. Given the emphasis on attainment of university places, administrators and governors may regard this policy as appropriate.