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POSITIVE AFFIRAMTION TOWARDS CHARACTER FORMATION
REV. DR. S.M. JOHN KENNEDY S.J., M.A., M.Sc., M.Ed., M.Phil (ENG)., M.Phil (EDU)., Ph.D(Bot), Ph.D (Eng)
Assistant HM, St. Xavier’s HS School, Palayamkottai – 627 002, Tirunelveli.
The primary aim of Jesuit education is all round formation or the integral development of the students. One important aspect of all these educational processes is character formation. When students do something wrong, it immediately catches our attention and we try to correct the students through punishments. This often results in a lot of other related problems.
Instead of negative punishments, I, as the Principal of Loyola Academy school, from 2010 to 2013, was trying to form the character of the students through positive affirmation. I prepared 16 instant reward certificates for various items and when students did something good, they were instantly rewarded in the everyday assembly with these certificates. Public appreciation and recognition for positive behavior created a positive and a health atmosphere in the school.
The basic principle of this practice is that positive behavior, repeatedly recognized and appreciated, becomes character.
This paper gives the details of the positive affirmation project, its impact in the school and on the students.
The primary aim of Jesuit education is all round formation or the integral development of the students. It includes the intellectual (brain), physical (body), emotional (heart) and spiritual (soul) developments of the students. Among these, no one aspect can be stressed at the cost of the other. All these have to be equally promoted and developed through the educational processes and the prescribed curriculum. This only will result in a healthy society.
One important aspect of all these educational processes is character formation. When students do something wrong, it immediately catches our attention and we try to correct the students through punishments, often corporal punishments. This often results in a lot of other problems. Is punishment only way towards correction and character formation?
2. Loyola Academy CBSE School:
Instead of negative punishments, I was trying to form the character of the students through positive affirmation. I was the Principal of Loyola Academy CBSE school, located in Vadamelpakkam (Marai Malai Nagar) near Chennai from 2010 to 2013. The aim of the school is to ‘give the best to the least’. We aimed to give the best possible education with all the state of art facilities to the most poor and disadvantaged students. More than 50% of the students come from very poor families and from rural areas.
3. Instant Rewards:
Among the several innovative initiatives in the school, instant reward was one of the top most innovative practices. I prepared 16 instant reward certificates for various items like academic excellence, contributions to school assembly, generosity, honesty, contribution to the school notice board, excellent assignments and projects, sincerity, sportsmanship, cultural excellence, eco consciousness, English – language of the campus, helping nature, social service mindedness, volunteering spirit, best student of the class and holistic parental formation. When students did something good, they were instantly rewarded in the everyday assembly with these certificates. Public appreciation and recognition for positive behavior created a positive and a health atmosphere in the school. Students competed among themselves to get these certificates through their positive behavior.
The basic principle of this practice is that positive behavior, repeatedly recognized, publically affirmed, rewarded and appreciated, becomes character. Several students, identified for these instant rewards were given the certificates of appreciation everyday during the morning school assembly.
4. Description of the instant rewards:
The certificates were given for the following good behavior of the students.
- Academic excellence: for all inclusive performance in the academics
- Contribution to school assembly: Extraordinary performance in the everyday school assembly like reciting 10 Thirukural from memory by an LKG or an UKG student.
- Generosity: given for any generous contribution for a worthy cause – it can be a new dress given to a poor student or coaching a weak student in studies
- Honesty: being honest in one’s behavior. When someone does a mistake or a mischief, if caught, admits the mistake or mischief and regrets, he or she is rewarded with this certificate.
- Contribution to school notice board: there were several notice boards in the school. Any worthy contribution to these notice boards was rewarded with this.
- Excellent assignments and projects: this was part of the CCE process. All the good assignments and projects got this reward
- Sincerity: This was given for truthfulness, straight forward and genuine behavior
- Sportsmanship: This was mainly given for the performance in sports, games, yoga and other extra curricular activities.
- Cultural excellence: for worthy cultural performances
- Eco consciousness: for any behavior, protecting nature and environment.
- English – language of the campus: Since it was an English medium school, just to promote and encourage students to talk all the time in English inside the school campus, this reward was given.
- Helping nature: for any kind of help of students to others, both to other students and public
- Social service mindedness: for any social service in and outside the school.
- Volunteering spirit: given for the volunteer spirit of the students.
- Best student of the class: this was given to one student in a class every month. One student was selected every month from each class for this reward. This was given to all round best behavior.
- Holistic parental formation: This was given to the parents. One parent is selected every week from one class and given this reward. These parents are called to the school assembly on Mondays and are given gifts and these rewards. These parents are selected on the basis of their efforts in promoting the all round growth of their children. The photos of such parents were exhibited in the school notice board for a week.
5. Impact of this practice among the students and the parents:
I was able to concretely observe the following results due to this scheme of instant rewards:
- There was a healthy competition among students to study well
- Everyone vied with one another to get these rewards by exhibiting positive behavior
- Students brought out their hidden talents, nurtured and developed them
- They became sincere and honest in their behavior. Many of the students readily accepted the mistakes done. Any lost thing, found in the campus, was handed over to me. Often times, this was money, gold ornaments, pan or ATM cards.
- Students took extra efforts to prepare valuable, informative and creative notices for the notice boards.
- Students took extra efforts to prepare assignments and projects and present them very well.
- Students took extra interest and showed a lot of enthusiasm in sports, games and extra curricular activities. Yoga, band, drawing, abacus, western dance, classical dance, chess, folk dance, karate and advanced training in computer were the extracurricular activities, conducted in the school.
- Students started exhibiting a lot of interest in cultural activities and practices
- Eco sensitive behavior became part and parcel of the students’ character
- Everyone, including the children in the lower standards, understood the value of English and attempted to speak always in English inside the campus
- A lot of voluntary service in and outside the school was taken up by the students.
- Parents started showing a lot of interest and enthusiasm in collaborating with all the efforts of the school and actively contributed in the all round formation of the students.
Thus, a positive ambiance existed in the school which led to healthy character formation. Corporal punishment was completely not only banned but not at all necessary in the school. Teachers actively and readily collaborated with the management in identifying the students regularly for instant rewards.
Thus, instead of negative punishments for deviant behavior, positive affirmations went a long way in the formation of character among our students. This healthy practice could be easily adapted and emulated in other schools.