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Positive Behavior of School Aged Youth

Psychologists maintain that human behavior is to a large extent determined by the immediate environment that an individual is brought up in. This incorporates both the physical environment and the people that an individual interacts with everyday. This notion forms a good basis to propose that the behavior of school aged youth is likely to be positive where they are modeled in a Christian education environment than in a non-Christian environment. Despite these propositions, studies have indicated that positive behavior is also witnessed in non-Christian schools.

The need to come up with a plausible conclusion is therefore inevitable hence the need to make a comparison between the two environments. II. Background of the study i) Research Problem It has been a trend in the current generation of school aged youth to engage in deviant behavior. The question on whether the learning environment they are subjected to influences positive or negative behavior therefore arises. The proposition is that a Christian Education school environment encourages positive behavior.

This however cannot out-rule the fact that students in non-Christian Education school environment can also develop positive behavior. There is therefore a need to study this crucial subject to determine the way forward and get a better understanding of behavior. ii) Purpose of the study Different opinions have been given regarding the best school environment for students to develop positive behavior. Many have suggested the use of a Christian Education Environment. This study seeks to establish whether this kind of environment is essential for developing positive behavior in comparison with a non-Christian Education environment.

It seeks to establish the differences between these two environments and their effect on school aged youths’ behavior. iii) Research objectives 1) To establish factors that influence behavior in both Christian and non-Christian education environments. 2) To establish which of these education environments breed positive behavior. 2) To establish whether spiritual beliefs play a significant role in influencing behavior. iv) Research Scope This study limits itself to the study and analysis of behavior. Positive behavior in particular is studied in relation to the environment that school aged youth study in.

The results to be obtained are meant to quantify the hypothesis and hence will study both the Christian and non-Christian Education Environment. v) Theoretical Framework Behavior is often studied from the psychological point of view given that behavior is a set of actions performed by an individual (Alderman, 2007). In this respect, the environment including the persons that one interacts with highly influence behavior (McNeil and Rubin, 2007). In a school setting, behavior must be modeled since schools have a role in ensuring that students develop positive behavior.

Various behavioral theories suggest different ways of modeling behavior. The most important learning theories and which will be used as the perspective in approaching this study are behaviorism, humanistic psychology and Operant Conditioning (McNeil and Rubin, 2007). Behaviorism has been used in many instances to modify behavior. This is where certain desired traits are encourage while negative ones are discouraged (Alderman, 2007). Humanistic psychological approaches that were first put forth by Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Erich Fromm emphasize valuing human beings as purposeful and thoughtful (Down, 1994).

Also known as ‘third force’ psychologies, these approaches recognize that human beings are not the only ones who are influenced by the environment but they influence the environment as well (Down, 1994). Operant conditioning was put forth by B. F Skinner and it suggests that learning is directly related to behavior (McNeil and Rubin, 2007). It goes on to indicate that behavior can be learnt through conditioning which is in terms of response to external stimuli (Alderman, 2007).

Depending on how these theories are applied in the school setting, positive behavior can be attained. v) Definitions Christian Education Environment – This is an environment in which students learn while under Christian guidance, taking up different activities aimed at promoting their faith and Christian beliefs. Non-Christian Education Environment – Environment in which students are only taught using the school curriculum with no particular interest in Christian values. Students are however allowed to incorporate religion in their extra-curriculum activities.

Behaviorism – This word is widely used in psychology and behavior studies and it refers to controlling and guiding behavior through nurturing desired behavior while discouraging negative behavior. Scriptures – Christian readings which are often used to refer to Bible readings. They give rules and guidance of what is expected of mankind according to Christianity. Spiritual – This has to do with certain religious beliefs and could be concerned with teachings of after-life. Secular – Mostly used to define things of the world and which are barely spiritual. III.

Literature Review Christian vs. non-Christian Education Environment The main difference between a Christian and a non-Christian school environment lies in the teachings (Wallace, 2001; Frame, 2002). McAuley (2005) refers the Christian school environment as spiritual and non-Christian school environment as secular. This means that while Christian Education environment aims at nurturing the souls of the students through Christian teachings while teaching the curriculum at the same time, non-Christian Education environment only gives room for regular studies (Kienel, 2004).

How then does this influence positive behavior in school aged youth? The next session describes the various characteristics of both types of education environments and how they influence behavior. Christian Education Environment The Christian Education Environment has been cited by its supporters as an excellent way to mould school aged youth. Wallace (2001) notes that when a child is brought up in such kind of setting, they are more likely to be inclined towards doing good rather than doing wrong due to the strict adherence to positive Christian values required by these schools.

According to Walker (2009) and Kienel (2004), most parents feel that by taking their school aged youth to Christian schools, they receive their education in spiritually, morally, socially and physically safe surroundings. The Christian Bible which is normally studied by students in these schools calls for individuals to imitate Jesus. In essence, they are taught to only seek to do what is spiritually right (Frame, 2002; McAuley, 2005). The scriptures guide them through the various teachings that discourage negative behavior such as fornication, discrimination, violence, greed and pride among others (Downs, 1994).

Positive behavior such as responsibility towards other people’s welfare, showing love and care, respecting elders and avoiding all negative behaviors are instilled into the students through forums, discussions and chapel sermons that are part of most Christian Education schools (Downs, 1994; ACSI, 2008). Besides this, Frame (2002) notes that they ‘unteach’ values that students have learnt from their peers in the society and which are not considered good for the students.

This means that while the children gain academically, their behavior is molded positively so that they develop into learned and responsible young adults. Strict behavior standards are enforced in Christian schools so that the students’ behavior is modeled to the right standards (Walker, 2009; Wallace, 2001). One factor that contributes to the success of this approach is that the teacher-student ratio is lower than in most public schools which makes it easier for the teachers to monitor the student’s behavior (Kienel, 2004).

As a result of these high discipline standards among the students, the dangers of negative peer pressure are minimized (Walker, 2009). Not only are the students in Christian schools expected to learn positive behavior but they are also expected to implement it. Non-Christian Education Environment The setting in non-Christian schools gives little or no time to spiritual teachings. The programs are set in what McAuley (2005) refers to as a secular setting. Academic learning is the main objective and deviations are rare and in between.

Every institution needs to maintain high levels of discipline which calls for measures to teach and implement these (Wallace, 2001). Non-Christian schools enhance high levels of discipline through the use of sanctions to punish undesirable behavior. There are also counseling lessons that students attend on regular basis depending on individual school programs. According to Wallace (2001), this eliminates the notion that non-Christian schools cannot maintain positive behavior in their schools. Punishments and counseling form an efficient way of ensuring positive behavior.

ACSI (2008) however notes that the level of positive behavior in non-Christian schools cannot exceed that of Christian schools. Wallace (2001) notes that there is a certain power in spiritual guidance that overpowers secular guidance. Time spent on instilling proper behavior through counseling is also limited in non-Christian schools. Frame (2002) notes that in public schools which are basically non-Christian allow little time if any to teach good values and this is normally left to parents who may not be in a position to perform this duty due to tight schedules.

Most of the student’s spare time is spent in sports, enrichment activities, retreats and hikes among others which basically leaves no time for counseling and learning Christian values (Frame, 2002). Students in non-Christian education environment are therefore more likely to get into drug addiction, teenage pregnancies, bullying and violence among other deviant behaviors (Mahoney, 2009). The teachers have an obligation to perform the government duty which is to teach and rarely give any spiritual guidance to students (Wallace, 2001). IV. Analysis This and many other similar studies can be said to be rooted in the psychology of behaviorism.

Downs (1994) notes that factors outside of ourselves are the ones that determine our behavior. For this reason, it is possible to influence the behavior of students through learning and other behavior influencing strategies. Gauging from the environment present in Christian schools and non-Christian schools, it is possible to tell why the overall behavior in these two settings is likely to be different. From what Frame (2002) notes, students in Christian schools dedicate time to special programs including prayers, chapel sessions and counseling sessions into their daily activities.

These programs keep reminding the students of the requirements that the Bible places in their behavior which effectively corrects any deviation that could have occurred in the meantime (Wallace, 2001). Non-Christian schools on the other hand spend less time on such programs and their free time is mostly spent in other kinds of extra-curricular activities such as hiking, competitions and games among others so that they have little or no time to receive guidance on behavior.

In class, teachers are required to perform their duties as the state requires them and students can only be guided in behavior during counseling sessions which are mostly avoided because of laxity of rules (Kienel, 2004). In certain circumstances, these classes are optional; which is the opposite in Christian schools where all disciplinary and behavioral programs must be attended. Given these two kinds of environments, the Christian Education environment is better placed in enhancing positive behavior.

The learning approach that makes use of Operant conditioning as explained by Skinner is witnessed in both kinds of environments. Strict sanctions are expected whenever students fail to obey the set rules. Wallace (2001) notes that disciplinary measures could range from punishments to expulsion from the school which makes students behave in the desired manner while avoiding the wrong kind of behavior. This is to mean that by sticking to these rules, both environments are capable of conditioning behavior in school aged youth such that they behave positively.

While strict behavior requirements are expected from students in both environments with strict sanctions in place for defaulters, McNeil and Rubin (2007) note that spiritual beliefs play a more important rule in ensuring that rules are obeyed. Spiritual beliefs are said to influence an individual’s life to a large extent such that they strive to work towards satisfying them and hence avoid negative consequences that are associated with breaking them. As a matter of fact, they could exceed adherence to rules set by authorities (McNeil and Rubin, 2007).

This is one notion that makes students in Christian schools to have positive behavior because they strive to accomplish the scriptural teachings they receive. The use of humanistic psychology plays a huge role in the Christian education background setting. As noted by Downs (1994), valuing human beings is an important aspect of influencing behavior. Students are more likely to conform to rules when they know that their seniors find them thoughtful and purposeful. The Christian Education environment teaches equality of individuals and considers every person as important in God’s eyes (ACSI, 2008).

As a result everyone must treat others as he or she would like to be treated. This kind of provision justifies humanistic approach which also maintains that human beings influence their environment as well. One way in which humans influence the environment is through influencing others. Peer pressure in schools is more common in non-Christian schools due limited moral teachings that help one to refrain from such attractions (Mahoney, 2009). In Christian schools, the good values instilled make sure that possibility of negative peer pressure are avoided and that in the highest manner possible, only positive behavior is transmitted.

IV. Conclusion Having made a comparison between the Christian Education environment and the non-Christian Education environment, this study effectively concludes that positive behavior is more likely to be witnessed in school aged students who go to Christian schools. This does not out-rule the fact that it is possible for positive behavior to be maintained in non-Christian schools. What is notable however is that the power of spiritual beliefs in influencing human behavior overpowers the use of sanctions and counseling.

This is because of the association with superpowers that human beings tend respect or to fear more than anything else. This coupled with high disciplinary requirements on students in Christian education environment is what causes positive behavior to be more prominent than in students modeled in a non-Christian education environment. Dedication exerted by Christian schools towards positive behavior learning is also higher than in non-Christian schools. Word Count: 2325 References Alderman, P. A. (2007). Theories of psychology. New York: McGraw Hill. ACSI.

(2008). Basic Questions and Answers about Christian Schools. US: Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). Downs, G. P. (1994). Teaching for Spiritual Growth: An Introduction to Christian Education. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishers. Frame, J. (2002). Christian Schools. IIIM Magazine Online, 4(10), March 18 to March 24. Kienel, P. A. (2004). Why a Christian School? Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). Mahoney, K. (2009). Being a Christian on a Secular Campus. Retrieved on July 9, 2009 from http://christianteens. about.

com/od/schoolstuff/a/secularcampus. htm McAuley, J. (2005). Secular Versus Christian Education. Retrieved on July 9, 2009 from Education. http://www. covenanter. org/JMcauley/secularversuschristianed. htm McNeil, E. B. & Rubin, Z. (2007). The Psychology of Being Human. Michigan: Canfield Press. Walker, C. (2009). Reaping the Benefits of a Christian School. Retrieved on July 9, 2009 from http://www. aacs. org/reaping-the-benefits-of-a-christian-school/ Wallace, J. (2001). My life in a Christian school: a comparison to non-Christian Schools. London: Routledge.

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