Disciplinary problems usually start in the home
The subject of discipline, especially in our schools, has been bouncing around for decades. While parents have a right to express concerns about the problem and the negative effects on children who fall victim to unacceptable bullying tactics, it is an issue that has its origins deep in the early learning process — usually in the home.
Many countries around the world are battling with negative behaviour from students who decades ago would have suffered the wrath of school discipline, and then faced additional punishment at home. It was the great age of discipline when teachers knew most parents were supportive of having students respect rules of conduct or suffer the consequences.
Back then, many students were deeply fearful of having their parents find out they had breached school rules because they knew that in most cases, punishment at home would be more severe than anything the school dished out. Unfortunately, that period has slipped away, ushering in an age where discipline as we once knew it is a distant memory. That is sad because it is through understanding the importance of discipline that most of us learn how to tackle many of life’s challenges.
Although discipline should always be an essential part of the education system, there have been numerous studies over the years that have helped in understanding why some children enter school with a hostile attitude, even without provocation. It could very well be a physical or emotional disorder that would require medical expertise to address.
While that could be the case at times, there are also some children who are simply used to back-talking to parents and not complying to rules at home, with no consequences. It is not a question of blaming parents because finger pointing does little to improve what could be a problem that affects other children who respect rules and want to learn.
The issue needs cool heads and calm thinking to come to grips with modern-day student behaviour that is so largely influenced by distractions that were non-existent years ago.
Without a doubt, life in the home has changed to a degree where in some cases people are more familiar with the electronic gadget they are holding than they are with other family members. Locked in some sort of trance and fiddling with button pushing, the art of common conversation has all but vanished. If the parents are as engaged in this almost hypnotic practice as well, it can be a surprise to no one that many old traditional values in the area of conversation seem no longer relevant.
Our educational system works best when discipline is seen as a crucial priority by parents and teachers jointly. No matter how well the system is, and we believe officials do their best to maintain the highest standards, the most important lesson of all — discipline — should take place in the home. Preferably from that first challenge in the cradle.
What the child learns about discipline during that early stage will determine how they will apply themselves when entering the education system before moving out into the wider world.
The education system will never be perfect, and there will be no easy solutions to student behavioural issues that can be deeply disturbing for teachers, parents and school principals. However, it cannot be ignored that the home is essential in helping to make things better.
We know the clock cannot be turned back to the days when a rude student was dealt with in a manner that left no doubt that without pain there would be no gain. Many of our seniors know exactly what I am talking about.
An outstanding teacher, Ivan Cunningham, at The Central School, now known as Victor Scott Primary, had what he called “the persuader”. It was part of a belt once used for woodcutting machines. I attended many of his woodwork classes and never once did I see anyone step out of line.
The message was clear: without discipline, there will be consequences.