Discipline and Education…

“Discipline of others isn't punishment. You discipline to help, to improve, to correct, to prevent, not to punish, humiliate, or retaliate.” (John Wooden)

While conflicting opinions often prevail about the purpose of education and its ultimate function, few will deny the fact that without discipline, it is near impossible for the teaching and learning process to take place. How can students absorb information, share ideas or interact in an atmosphere where unruliness reigns supreme? Unfortunately, a number of schools in our country have become prey to this gangrene known as ‘indiscipline’. Over the last few months, newspapers have published appalling accounts of indiscipline cases in schools around the island. The obvious question to contemplate upon is how did we reach here and what should be done to reverse this worrying trend?
It would not be erroneous to claim that discipline and teaching go hand in hand. In order for the teacher to impart knowledge in a classroom or to conduct educational activities, it is imperative that the students adopt a positive behaviour and for this to happen, the teacher has to ensure that discipline is maintained. However, it is not as simple as this. Discipline is not an isolated ‘affair’ that relies solely on the teacher. Instead, several external factors contribute to its success or failure and we need to analyse these factors before we can understand how to tackle indiscipline.
It is my pertinacious belief that the education of the child begins at home and therefore, the first responsibility is that of the parent/carer since the latter has a great influence over the child in the early years. An article from The Guardian suggested that “by the time British children are around six years old, their social background has overtaken their natural ability as the main predictor of success in education.” Unfortunately, it cannot also be denied that there is a correlation between poverty and households’ ability to create an environment conducive to learning. In the same line of thought, there seems to be a ‘laissez-aller’ on behalf of educational institutions and key stakeholders in regards to maintaining discipline in schools. As a result, these factors have contributed to a rapid decline in the level of discipline in our educational establishments and this unsurprisingly has a ripple effect on our society at large as one might be tempted to suggest that the increasing rate of violence, immorality and lawlessness in society might be intrinsically linked to indiscipline. An indiscipline- that is more often than not- developed and nurtured during the early years where one is most easily influenced, including the years spent at school.  
Therefore, it is crucial that the various stakeholders(ministry, parents, teachers, educational counsellors) combine their effort to tackle this spreading gangrene known as indiscipline. Schools need to be monitored more closely, school administrators and teachers better trained and equipped to curb indiscipline through both ‘deterrent’ measures and a reward-based system which promotes and encourages positive behaviour, counsellors provided with the necessary resources to identity, assess and support students who exhibit problematic behaviour and parents be made conscious of the integral role they play in the education of their child. It is only when the child is disciplined that he/she can develop his/her potential and be not only literate but educated.