Academic journal article Asian Social Science

A Documentary Analysis of the Government's Circulars on Positive Behavior Enhancement Strategies

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

A Documentary Analysis of the Government's Circulars on Positive Behavior Enhancement Strategies

Article excerpt


This paper analyses the concept of positive behavior and strategies for promoting positive behavior in a country that has a centralized educational system, namely Malaysia. The analysis covers 91 circulars (official government documents) that were distributed to schools over a period of 40 years (from 1969 to 2011). The analysis uses a content analysis approach. The results suggest that the concept of positive behavior revolves around discipline and obedience. The term 'good discipline' is frequently used referring to the concept of positive behavior. Perpetration, aggressive and gang behavior are considered to be negative. The Government has tended to emphasize in promoting discipline and positive behavior: (1) strategies for bonding social capital and bridging social capital, and (2) discouraging negative behaviors using punitive approach, positive and negative reinforcement. This paper proposes the framework for promoting positive behavior and the implications for classroom management.

Keywords: positive behaviour, strategies, social capital, circular, education policy

1. Introduction

Past educational studies on positive behavior seem to focus on problem behavior (Carroll, Houghton, Khan, & Tan, 2008; Cothran and Kulinna, 2007) and coping strategies (McClure & May, 2011; Morin & Battalio, 2004) rather than on the conceptualization of positive behavior. The concept of positive and negative are contextual, subjective and have a close link with socio-cultural norms (Awang, 2010). This informs why certain behavior is acceptable in a certain culture but rejected in another. Indeed, strategies recommended by governments and used by teachers may differ from one country to another. Relatively little research has been carried out on positive behavior enhancement in a Malaysian context, as much focus has been put on disciplinary issues rather than positive behavior.

1.1 Positive Behaviour Enhancement

Although many theories and approaches for promoting positive behavior are suggested in the past, it is still unclear how it links with suggestions made by governments. Despite the fact that government directives may inform practice, there are relatively few past studies that have focused on government perspectives regarding positive behavior. The most relevant research on government perspectives was carried out by Duhaney (1999). However, that study focused on the subject of inclusion, not positive behavior enhancement.

1.2 Social Capital

Social capital posits that social networks are valuable (Bourdieu, 1986; Coleman, 1988; Putnam, 2000) as it provides better social cohesion, support and societal wellbeing. According to Putnam (2000), bonding social capital refers to inward-looking network such as having social and psychological support for community members, whereas bridging social capital refers to outward-looking network which might be able to generate broader identities and reciprocity. In this paper, bonding social capital refers to strategies for developing a sense of belonging to a school (2006), including social relationships and connections within a school compound, whereas bridging social capital refers to a formal connection between a school and non-school agencies, such as the local community, government bodies, parents and non-government organizations.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

This paper aims to analyze the concepts of positive and negative behavior as stipulated in the circulars and identify the positive behavior enhancement strategies suggested by the Malaysian Government.

1.4 Context of the Study

The Malaysian Government puts a great deal of emphasis on positive behavior among young people, as the country has set a target to achieve the status of being a developed country by 2020. One of the challenges to achieve that vision is "establishing a fully moral and ethical society, whose citizens are strong in religious and spiritual values and imbued with the highest of ethical standards" (Mahathir, 1991, p. …

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