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HAS behaviour got worse?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by jubilee, Jul 15, 2010.

  1. Woah! It's nonsense <u>of course</u>!? My point was to bring an element of doubt into the debate... if you're doubting my doubt, you must have a whole load of certainty there.
    I apologise if my earlier statement read like a categorical assertion. My point was merely that I bemoan the generation after mine, my parents bemoaned mine, and their parents bemoaned theirs. Also, it appears, Socrates (or someone similar) bemoan the generation after his. This is far from definitive evidence, and I didn't mean it to be interpreted as such. It does however mean that 'the belief that people have always thought children's behaviour was getting worse' is definitely credible, if very far from proven.

    The difficulty here is that the plural of anecodote is not data. And it doesn't really matter how good, true or apposite your anecdotes are.
    Even if you can remember what schools were like 40 years ago, and even if you can accurately assess what they're like now, and even if there is (by pure chance) no selection, availability or researcher bias in your assessment then that is still only two points on a graph. Two points on a graph that we can reasonably expect to contain millions of points. Billions if you want to go back to Classical times. And even if you did that, you're still comparing two entirely different schools... unless you went to the same school you teach at. And that's still only one school out of thousands in the country, each containing maybe a thousand kids.
    The idea that you could accurately trend even height over that kind of time and that many kids is rather daunting. The idea that you could try and draw any conclusions at all about behaviour flabbers my ghast. It's possibly the most tenuous, subjective, poorly defined and immeasurable factor I can think of in an educational context and subject to at least a dozen external and uncontrolable dependent factors, each as difficult to pin down as behaviour itself.
    My main point is this: I'm sure we all have stories... we can make comparisons between things we observe now and things we observed in the past. And this is all very well and good and quite interesting; but if you attempt to extrapolate from this to make comments about kids or schools or (God forbid) society in general you are on incredibly shaky ground. It's like throwing down a one meter quadrat, examining the contents and telling people you know all about the UK

  2. "Even Socrates is reputed to have said "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers." "
    "It's nonsense of course"
    Nothing necessarily wrong here, Cuichulain. You're right, Socrates is reputed to have said this. (Probably because people with certain views on behaviour management regularly assert, as a matter of fact, that he did - unlike you who, I accept, wisely qualified it). And, if it is not true that Socrates did in fact say that, then Oldandrew is right to say that this "reputation" is nonsense.
  3. Only for a trainee food tech teacher at the moment, according to their website [​IMG]
  4. ??? Obviously you don't like the Telegraph if you read the Guardian (other way round for me!) but I don't think by any stretch of the imagination you can call it a tabloid!
  5. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I didn't call the telegraph a tabloid! I said '"the Daily telegraph or any of the tabloids that ..." The telegraph was mentioned as a stand-alone category, with tabloids being another category!
    Now, if I'd written (the Daily telegraph and the other tabloids that ..." you'd have apoint, but I didn't phrase it like that, on purpose.
  6. Fortasse,

    I'll be honest, I qualified my statement because I'm vaguely aware of the inherent problems ascribing anything to Socrates. I assumed, when posting, that if it wasn't Socrates it was, at least, an opinion dating from the correct era... an invention of Plato's, for instance. If so, I feel my point still stands, so long as it was the opinion of someone from that time.

    If it was a modern invention ascribed to Socrates, though, it doesn't support my point at all and I withdraw it with reservation. Any Classicists wanna help me out?
  7. The Socrates thing is nonsense. Socrates famously left no written works, and although a few other writers put words into his mouth then none of them chose those words. It doesn't remotely sound like something anybody's Socrates would say.
    The point is that he didn't. It is a myth used by Behaviour Crisis denialists. For pity's sake even the Steer Report had a fake quotation from Plato.
    It is not credible. If it were we'd find expect to find widespread evidence of such comments made in all eras. We don't. I won't say there are no genuine comments like this from other generations or cultures (obviously we are not the first culture to experience a long term decline in the behaviour of children) but they are not the norm.
    If people were talking about small changes between generations then fair enough, but we are talking about a transformation of culture. To say that nobody could tell from personal experience, or from the experience of others, that their culture has fundamentally changed is ridiculous. The plural of anecdote might not be data, but it is very often history.
  8. Funnily enough I was thinking about this a couple of days ago. It really is the general culture that has changed and that is reflected in schools.
    When I was in primary school in the 50s, we used to have an annual event in the city, "Flower Day". Little and large community groups would work feverishly over a day and a night to do displays here, there and everywhere, some of them were very large. And over the following few days, hordes of people would go out and admire the handiwork - some were floral carpets, some were mock statues, and every other conceivable idea to do a big or spectacular thing with cut flowers (no pot plants).
    Does anyone think that we could now do such a thing and leave several hundred unprotected displays of this kind in city and suburban streets? I don't.
  9. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I agree. The chickens have really come home to roost from Thatcher's 'No such thing as Society' speech!
  10. We never had Thatcher here. But my own view is that the malign combination of Reagan and Thatcher shifted all English speaking countries towards a particular kind of individualist thinking that's turned out to be pernicious. And it's not just a right wing / left wing thing either. There are plenty of "right wing" or conservative notions that are actually socially cohesive rather than divisive as these two turned out to be.
  11. Are you saying that quote is entirely fabricated? I have no strong desire to defend the quote, but I'd be interested to see what evidence you have for dismissing it out of hand.
    In any case, it was meant to be merely illustrative.

    That's exactly what I'm saying and it's far from ridiculous. Humans are staggeringly bad at making assessments like this for a number of reasons.
    • Each human is capable of observing only what they are capable of observing. Which is a minutely tiny percentage of what they can and should be observing if they want to make such sweeping conclusions.
    • The propensity for humans to be biased in what they report is large and well documented. People find evidence that supports their theories, not the other way round. Everyone does. Everyone. That's why we have the scientific method.
    • Even if you accept that these anecdotes are accurate, they are still, by their nature, anecdotes of extreme behaviour. While it's possible to compare present extremes to past extremes, it's not particularly helpful
    • The ability of humans to compare present situations to past situations is tenous at best. Your recollection of the past (and to a lesser extent, your judgement of the present) is coloured (biased, if you will) by your feelings and perceptions at the time and by subsequent influences. Which is why we have the scientific method.
    • Even if you could accurately judge past and present, it's not a fair comparison. You can't step in the same river twice, to continue with our Classical theme.
    • People are naive, fearful, credulous, easily swayed, panicky and alarmist. We all know this. We probably say it all the time. What we don't do is include ourselves in the set of 'All people'. We should. I should. You should. We're all Sheeple and it's nigh-on impossible to separate genuine ideas from the mass of misinformation we've been led into believing. Which is why we have the scientific method
    Sorry rambled on there... suffice to say 'Personal Experience' is the absolute worst way of deciding absolutely anything more important than what you're gonna have for dinner. Humanity made practically no progress until we stopped thinking that personal experience was evidence for anything at all.

    And.... that's without getting on to the difficult and problematic nature of attempt to measure behaviour. Even with a decent scientific approach that didn't involve people just chucking thought nuggets about it would still be a heart-stoppingly daunting prospect. Which is probably why no-one has done it.

    So.... plenary.
    It may seem to you that behaviour has got worse. You may use alarming and hard-to-support terms like 'Behaviour Crisis!'. But that's pretty much all you can say... that it 'seems to you'. You can't even say what it seems to everyone else, let alone what is actually happening.
    And the funny thing is, that you may be right. Problem is, you don't have enough evidence to support your assertion, and that's really all I'm interested in.

    Sorry. Long one.

  12. Oops, sorry, I misread that. Must have been a long day [​IMG]
  13. It doesn't come from any of the people it is reputed to come from.
    Last time I looked human beings were able to communicate.
    There is no one single scientific method.
    Anyway, what we are talking about here is not science but history.
    The point is they aren't extreme. They are normal now.
    I believe you have already said this.
    I think this is a platitude.
    Let me know if you can develop it into an actual argument.
    Rings a bell.
    Are you saying that historians have never made any progress in understanding the past?
    I'm sorry, but I am as keen on scepticism as the next man, but not everything is science. Some things can only be judged by the accounts of human beings. It is not impossible to analyse and judge these accounts. Science hasn't put historians out of business.
  14. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    Here surely is the crux.
  15. And it really is about history. In the self-same city of the Flower Days, we had a particular city street/ area that was so chaotic, violent and criminal that the police of the late 19th century didn't go down there for fear of assault or worse.
    By the time I came along 60+ years later, it was still a bit seedy, and I certainly didn't walk there alone after dark, but it was under control. Now, there are special police patrols to deal with the outbreaks of alcohol fuelled mayhem that breaks out with monotonous regularity - and there's a bit of bikie gang / drugs-related violence from time to time.
    That tells us what? That there are periods and places when social order breaks down, and other times when social cohesion predominates in the same places.
    It's just foolish to pretend that in many English speaking countries, there's not more uncivil behaviour, riotous boozed up street violence and general unpleasantness than there was 40 odd years ago. And the ghastly youtube videos that school children publicise of their own and their friends involvement in violent bullying is just another sign of not-so-nice times.
    Eventually, there'll be some tightening of licensing and related laws. Who knows what will happen about recreational drugs - some legalised, some not - in another 20 years? With some luck there will be a change towards more civil behaviour in more places. I hope.
  16. Palpably untrue. Necessarily untrue. To the extent that I think you're being deliberately obtuse. That, or you don't really understand the word normal.
    Are you saying the stories related in this thread and others are indicative of the behaviour of the majority of students in the majority of classes? Or do you think people are really coming on an interenet message board and reporting the activities of a represantative sample of students drawn from those who's behaviour falls within two standard deviations from the mean?
    Or did you actually want to say 'common' instead, but couldn't be bothered to back up that assertion or even state 'common compared to what'?

    History is a valid and valuable field and has made great strides in understanding the past. And the fact that it is a large and complicated field would indicate to me, at least, that it's possibly a touch more complicated than 'what I reckon, and what some guy in the pub and some other guys on the internet said'. Furthermore, valuable though it undoubtedly is, History has never solved, or even contributed to, complex present-day sociological problems. Possibly because no one has been damn-fool enough to try. Particularly since you're not even using the same degree of rigour and academic integrity I learnt in KS3 History.

    You know what? I don't even care... I've provided supported and rigourously proven reasons why you should doubt your own assessment, my assessment and the assessment of everyone on this thread. But, sadly, the whole point about irrationality is that it is.
  17. Society changes. For some reason, schools are very slow in responding to these changes. The age of deference is dead. It was dying by 1960, and dead by 1970. But teachers in the UK kept on beating children with implements for another 15 years after that, and a good chunk of them would have carried on even then given half a chance. Now we see same the same long lag time in adapting to other changes. Long, long ago, the concept of having 'respect' purely on the basis of the position you hold was a dead duck in nearly ever other walk of life; you have to earn it by how you perform. That applies to doctors, policemen, civil servants, practically anyone in a professional public service role who once upon a time might have thought their posiiton accorded them automatic 'respect'. But a segment of the teaching profession still don't get it, must be something to do with the sort of person who came into teaching in that era. There are people here who are displaying attitudes that would have been considered old-fashioned 30 years ago - how can they imagine these ideas are appropriate in the 21st century? Good behaviour management in a modern context is not rocket science, it can be learned and practiced - read Sue Cowley, read Peter Hook and Andy Vass, etc. Sure, have high expectations and be firm and consistent and apply sanctions when necessary, but focus on the positives and treat pupils with respect - ye gods, you might even find you get some genuine respect back from the students, probably for the first time in your life.
  18. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    Assert that...and you&acute;ll believe anything.

    If your absurdly naive socio-political assertion is true, why then did the UK electorate plump just a few months ago for a Tory party led by etonDave where 18/28 front bench shadow cabinet members were millionaires?

    A proportion which was actuallty INCREASED by the inclusion of westminsterNick&acute;s gang !


    And your views on school discipline issues are less credible still.
  19. garyconyers

    garyconyers New commenter

    Is that possible? (Not that JamesTES has ever properly explained what his views on behaviour management actually are).
    JamesTES, if you have worked out what your opinions are, and can now specifically explain what "effective sanctions that would also be consistently enforced" are, people may be happy to discuss school discipline and behaviour management ideas with you.
    Seriously, what, in your opinion are "effective sanctions"?
  20. garyconyers

    garyconyers New commenter

    Not in my experience as a police officer.
    Looks like James is guessing and hasn't a clue what he's talking about. Again.

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