Truancy has been a problem since the first schools. In the past, students were punished by parents and their schools for skipping. Today however, with many human rights laws and rules against punishing children (Parliament of Canada), truancy comes with almost no consequences and has grown in popularity (The Independent).
Truancy is often caused by the students’ family problems, abuse and neglect, mental and physical health issues, drug and alcohol abuse, low self esteem, lack of friends, safety concerns and a number of other reasons. Some effects of truancy on students include involvement in crime, more likely to be unemployed, decreased academics, and risk of not obtaining a higher education (GTC Michigan). Truancy not only effects the truant student itself, but also an entire class, when a teacher slows down to help him catch up.
Theory B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) was only concerned with observable behaviors, not the mental processes behind them. Skinner used animals to study how the use of rewards and punishment can influence behavior, which became known as operant conditioning. He performed the Skinner box experiment, where a rat in a cage must press a button for food to be released into the cage. After the food has run out, the rat stopped pressing the button after a few futile attempts. This is called extinction.
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) studied “self actualizing” people, which is reaching one’s full potential, only after basic needs are met. Maslow created his Hierarchy of Needs, it explains that basic needs must be fulfilled before higher order needs become important. Carl Rogers (1902 – 1987) developed client-centered therapy. This approach focuses on the potential of each person to realize his or her own growth in self-awareness and self-fulfillment.
I think B.F Skinner’s research could be applied to the issue of skipping school the best. Although therapy is important for truant students, rewards and punishments are more important. School is a place that teaches discipline, and Skinner’s idea demonstrates just that. Solutions The following are some possible solutions to dealing with truancy in the classroom. 1. Make students feel needed at school. To do this, teachers can assign certain responsibilities to the students, such as group projects. This way, the students will feel a responsibility to others and may be less likely to skip because they will feel guilty.
2. Use a reward system (operant conditioning). Offer truant students a reward for perfect attendance for a certain amount of time. This may encourage them to attend school for the reward. 3. Make students feel liked at school. To do this, teachers can display students’ work, be supportive of students, and engage students in group activities and clubs where they can be social and do work at the same time. 4. Work together with the truant students’ families. Find out why the student skips school and figure out a solution to prevent or change this behavior. This is an effective method because the families know the students the best and can find productive solutions together with the school.
5. Find out why the students skip school and figure out a solution. Counseling groups and guidance counselors are very important for this role, but they must respect the students’ opinions and statements and work with them to fix their problems (client-centered therapy). 6. Some students skip school because they are failing and see no point of returning to school. Teachers should give these students an opportunity to make up for their missing work and provide extra help at lunch or after school. 7. Make sure that the school is a safe and positive atmosphere for all students. Teach students to respect each other through assemblies and in class work. Increase teacher supervision. Conduct student surveys to find out how they feel about the school environment. Be open to suggestions from students on how to improve the school environment.