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The Foundation of Discipline


Disciplines > Teaching > Classroom management > The Foundation of Discipline

The foundation metaphor | What this means | Discipline is fair | Learn to instil discipline | See also


The foundation metaphor

Strong houses are build on solid foundations and good lessons are built on solid discipline. The notion of a 'foundation' really is a powerful metaphor for discipline. You cannot build a house on sand, and you cannot teach when you do not have discipline.

Sadly, when faced with indiscipline, too many teachers plough on regardless, trying to teach through a cacophony of distractions. The emphasis here is 'trying', because when you do not have attention then you cannot teach.

What this means

What this really means in practice is that you must deal with discipline as it happens. If you ignore it, you are legitimizing it, sending the message that it is acceptable.

Bad behavior in the classroom is often intended to grab attention, so ignoring it often means that it just gets worse and worse. Like the infant that screams louder and louder until it gets attention, badly-behaved students are likely to become even more disruptive.

If you ignore it, then return to it, especially if you do so with anger, then you are sending a message that you really were bothered by it. You are also tacitly admitting that the students in question have control and you, by implication, do not.

Discipline is fair

Whilst students may complain that discipline is unfair, indiscipline is most clearly unfair, particularly on those who want to learn. Discipline is good for all. It is a basis on which the value of learning can continue.

The only reason indiscipline persists is because the teacher accepts and allows it. This can seem unfair, but it is a part of the job to establish discipline. Certainly, there are situational factors that make it more difficult, particularly when students who have learned elsewhere that indiscipline is possible. This can be perpetuated by a school that does not provide sufficient support to the teacher (and this is most unfair).

Learn to instil discipline

Even the worst-behaved students can learn to appreciate discipline and, through indiscipline, may well be seeking consistency and certainty in a chaotic life.

Establishing and sustaining discipline is a skill, and a very important skill in teaching. It is thus worth spending time developing that skill. It is not enough to know your subject and be able to impart it's joy to others. You must also and initially be able to create the conditions in which your students can and want to learn.

Discipline, most of all, is what happens in the student's mind. With self-discipline they will behave well.

See also

Authority principle

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