I had an experience recently that resulted in me thinking a lot about the word discipline. My experience involved helping administer a federal government required test to a fourth-grade class. The teacher of the class was supposed to help and when she did, the “discipline” only became worse. The children were simply, undisciplined. What does disciplined/undisciplined really mean?
Discipline is used in many different ways. It is often used as a negative and I can understand why. For example, we use the word to threaten children when we say, “If you don’t behave, I will discipline you!”
Of course, in education, we group certain studies that help us to learn a particular way of thinking and call each group a discipline. An example is social science. Another example is language arts.
The word, discipline, is also used to describe a method or way of thinking that demonstrates the use of a set of logical principles. In using discipline in this manner we assume that the method or way of thinking in the discipline helps to reason the solution to problems. For example, we have a discipline called history. Another called mathematics. Etc.
OK, so you can see a few of the different ways of using the word discipline. As most of you probably know, the word discipline has a root word of disciple.
What does the word disciple mean? It means a person who learns from another – especially one who then teaches others – or, is an active follower or adherent of someone, or some philosophy, etc.
Why is discipline considered by so many to be a bad or negative word? Think about it! If you tell someone s/he needs more discipline, I’ll bet that person thinks you are expressing a negative, instead of a positive. I believe that is the way, at least in most of America, we are brought-up. By brought-up I mean, “to take care of and educate.”
If I say someone, including myself, needs more discipline, it could and often times should be thought of as a positive. I think it should be like saying someone needs work on her/his upper body strength. Or, that someone needs to improve her/his skill of parallel-parking an automobile.
Really, undisciplined actions that harm the ability to have a lawful democratic society must be addressed. The best group of people to impact society are the children. In the long run, teaching children that discipline is a good word and helps us all to have a better world, is essential for promoting a better society. Of course, this is just my thinking.
How can we teach a disciplined way of thinking in an undisciplined society? All of these disciplines that we value (history, science, language arts, mathematics, etc.) require the mind to become disciplined. Do we value this way of thinking. If we do, then let’s make the word a “good” word.
There, I’ve gotten that off of my mind. :-) Thanks for reading.
What do you think about discipline?