By George Batten
Everyone in the course of their lifetime goes on a search for discipline. How often do we question ourselves about having enough courage, direction, fortitude, will, desire, or discipline to stay the course. As a general observation, people with discipline in their lives are, usually, more successful and happy as compared to people with little or no discipline in their lives. A person living a life without discipline has an intrinsic understanding of needing the skills and habits associated with good discipline. A good school discipline process uses this intrinsic need and search for discipline to establish the proper skills and thinking patterns of good discipline.
America has a major discipline problem. America’s Public Schools have a major discipline problem. America’s Private Schools have a major discipline problem. The discipline problem has permeated throughout all layers of American society. What are some of the signs that we have a discipline problem?
A lack of manners is one of the first signs. A lack of courtesy to others is another sign of a loss of discipline. The combination of lack of manners and loss of courtesy are indicators that a person has no respect for you as a person or the position of authority that you hold. Lack of manners and courtesy are outward signs that the internal thinking processes of students about their behavior is not being challenged. These wrong behaviors indicate the consequences used by schools, to fight bad behavior are not working. The consequences for bad behavior, in America and in our schools, are not changing or controlling the behavior of students or children.
Schools try to control and change behavior with punitive consequences. The consequences schools use to change behavior are inadequate. Suspensions, expulsions, detention, referral centers, alternative schools, etc. are not working. A large percentage of our schools have little control over the behavior of their students. Students are not afraid of the external consequences for bad behavior. They come to believe they are smarter and stronger than the school discipline system. In too many cases, they are right, they are smarter and stronger than the school discipline system.
How do we bring discipline back to the schools of America? One direction would be to increase the severity of external consequences. Perhaps we could go the way of China. We could announce the next student late to class will be executed with a bullet to the head. After one or two tardies, this harsh consequence would be quickly internalized into the thinking processes of students. The tardy problem would quickly go away. This extreme example illustrates how external punishment could, suddenly, reach the inner thinking processes of students.
Extreme external consequences is not the proper direction for a democratic society. They are the consequences of police states and dictatorships. These consequences do not work toward the goals of manners, courtesy, and mutual respect.