When Not Reading Books Means Getting Booked

Thugs and bullies have left their mark on this World Cup. First Pepe got ugly against Müller. Then Suarez took a bite of Chiellini. And now Zúñiga has kicked Neymar all the way out of the tournament.

Brazilian fans are mourning the loss of their star player. But critics argue that the team has only itself to blame – Brazil’s rough tactics have invited opponents to fight back. There has been more foul play than jogo bonito.

Dirty tackles are as unwelcome at school as they are on the pitch. Education research shows that orderly classrooms help students learn more. Fortunately, PISA tells us that the disciplinary climate has been improving since 2003. But how disciplined are the World Cup semi-finalists?

Naughty or Nice

As you can see in the graph, the semi finals will be a battle of Naughty vs. Nice. Brazil (96) and the Netherlands (91) have committed many more fouls in this World Cup than their respective opponents, Germany (57) and Argentina (54). According to school principals surveyed by the OECD, almost 1 in 4 students are affected by bullying and intimidation in Brazil and the Netherlands.This makes German and Argentine schools appear orderly. But it’s worth noting that Germany is one of the few PISA countries where discipline has declined since 2003.

  • Between 2003 and 2012, the proportion of German students who said that their peers don’t listen to teachers rose from 22 to 35 per cent.
  • In Argentina, more than half (!) of all students said that there was noise and disorder in classrooms.

That’s got to be a yellow card!

The 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany was refereed by widely-respected Pierliugi Collina

The 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany was refereed by widely-respected Pierliugi Collina

So it looks like all four semi-finalists have work to do in improving discipline. They could start by sending more of their best teachers to disadvantaged schools (where disciplinary records are generally worse). Students who trust and respect their teachers behave better.

Just like football players who trust and respect the referee!


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