Misbehaviour in schools is a common occurrence and has been for some time. Schools have historically always been associated with misbehaviour and throughout recent years, misbehaviour has been consistently nominated as one of the leading problems that is faced by adults in educational settings (Deitz and Hummel, 1978:10). It is something that on a daily basis, members of the teaching staff and other learning support workers must contend with. This essay will examine some of the possible causes of misbehaviour in schools, and will associate theory to possible solutions that aim to combat these misbehaviours. Due to the word count however, topics such as gender differences, special educational needs and the difficulties that surround them, the use of assertive discipline, the effects of peers in the school environment and both teaching and learning styles have been omitted.
Misbehaviour is a term used to describe any actions, manners or behaviours, that can be classed as improper, inappropriate, immoral or bad (Dictionary.com, 2013). It is important to recognise that one person's value and understanding of the term misbehaviour, and what particular actions are classed as inappropriate, may differ from another person's understanding. In schools however, many of the misbehaviours recorded are of a similar substance. Graham (2008:52) states that some of the most common acts of inappropriate behaviour that occurs in schools, as described by teachers, includes misbehaviours such as talking, fidgeting or not sitting still, arguing and laziness, as well as seeking the attention of others whilst not paying attention to the class teacher. These types of behaviour may not appear to be of immediate or major concern, but teachers and teaching assistants will often find them exceptionally wearing when exposed to them on a regular basis (Hryniewicz, 2004:238). In contrast, there are many actions that children display that do require members of staff to immediately step in and record. Melrose Public Schools (2008) have devised a misbehaviour levelling system that divides common misbehaviours into levels according to their severity. Severe cases of misbehaviour, according for Melrose Public Schools, include bullying, swearing, spitting, harassment and assault, the possession of alcohol or other harmful substances, as well as the intimidation or threatening of other students and staff.
Regardless of the type of misbehaviour that occurs in schools, one thing will always remain constant; children who display negative or disruptive behaviour whether it be in schools, in public or at home, are doing so for a particular reason. Parents, families, professionals and support staff will be able to more effectively deal with a misbehaving child, if the reasons behind their misbehaviour is understood and acted upon suitably (Barber, 2001). Children learn, develop and mould themselves into who they are through the environment, and also through genetics. The study of the influence that the environment and genetics has on a child (nurture and nature respectively), is one that has prompted numerous theorists to come forward and generate debate. The nature side of the debate suggests that humans and their traits and behaviours are products of their genetics or their heredity. Wiggam (1925:82) claims that all of the actions that cause sadness and despair, and all of the actions that cause happiness and excitement, are not due to the environment, but due to the differences amongst people in the cells that they were born with. Wiggam therefore claims that bad behaviour is caused by the genetics of a person, and that the environment plays no factor in reasoning behind a specific behaviour, instead, a reaction or behaviour is purely because of who that person is. Watson (1924:82) however, disagrees. Watson put forward a brave statement in which