Monday, January 23, 2012

On discipline in education

Discipline in education means the freedom of the instructor to establish a sober-minded learning environment, free of disruptions by those who are unwilling to dedicate themselves to the serious undertaking of learning. That does not mean the absence of humor, or even fun; but it does mean that both the humor and the fun are part of the learning process and not a disruption from it.

This, of course, means that the instructor must be at liberty to exclude from the learning environment those who have no commitment to the instruction and learning taking place. Such exclusions may be temporary or permanent, as the individual and circumstances may suggest. Discipline is for "disciples"--literally, "learners"; i.e., those with a willing heart to learn.

It also means that the instructor must be free to issue other disciplinary commands, such as the performance of disciplinary tasks when lack of self-discipline brings needless disruption or loss to the learning processes.

One of the problems with mandatory education until the age of 16 or 17 is that statistically (I hate to break the news to you!) half of all students are below average. That means that many students are best suited to technical and trade learning, rather than being burdened with advanced grammar, English literature or studies in ancient history. They would be happier, and the learning environment would be more profitable for other students, if such individuals were given the option to learn a profitable trade rather than sit in classrooms being force-fed things in which they have no interest whatsoever.

One cannot have a disciplined learning environment while people are forced to sit in such classrooms without anything approaching a heartfelt desire to be discipled in the course being taught.

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