The whole idea of discipline should not be misconstrued. Discipline is not just punishing. Neither is it issuing an endless list of rules and orders.
On the contrary, it is part of the character that you build. It also means guiding a child to help him or her develop character with definite guidelines.
In general, discipline should involve instruction, education, guidance and training with consistency.
High standards of discipline are greatly beneficial to students. They help children feel safe and learn well.
The government of Rwanda focuses on promoting positive behavior, helping to build self discipline and encouraging respect for others. This can only be achieved through consistent and intentional planning by the school administration systems.
Instituting discipline in a school is not a one-term or year task. Rather, it is a painstaking and continuous process that gives rise to a positive culture in the long run.
Institutions with increased cases of indiscipline lack institutional culture.
Students are never sure about what should happen or be done in particular situations.
For instance, holding a birthday party in a school may be unacceptable at one time and acceptable at another time, depending on how it is perceived. If, the first time, the party was in a classroom and it was unacceptable, the next time it may be in a dining hall it may be acceptable. In the subsequent time, if it is in the dinning hall and it goes on to late hours of the night and there is misbehavior, all birthday parties in the school will be absolutely illegal.
What is the logic behind the shift of goal posts?
A scenario like the above-mentioned is unstructured and vague. What is wrong or right seems to depend on the situation rather than a clear guideline.
Regulations that are not clear cannot establish an institutional culture. They can only create loop holes for individual manipulations and victimization of the accused.
School environments without clear guidelines on discipline suppress and stress students. Interest in learning drastically diminishes and indiscipline spirals.
John Hopkins Univesity researchers Garry D. Gottfredson and Denice C. analyzed data from over 600 of the nation’s secondary schools. They found out that the following characteristics were associated with discipline problems: rules were unclear, teachers and administrators did not know what the rules were or disagreed with proper responses to student misconduct and teacher-administration cooperation was poor or the administration was inactive.
To change disruptive behavior, rules and consequences of breaking them should be clearly specified and communicated to staff, students and parents by means of newsletters, student assemblies and handbooks.
Creating an enduring and positive school culture cannot be achieved by school administrators only. It has to be the collective responsibility of all stakeholders, parents, teachers and administrators.
Although I hold the view that discipline should not just be a set of rules and a series of punishments, I cannot overemphasize the fact that rules are paramount and that they guide and define relationships in an institution.
Discipline should, therefore, be ingrained in the character that is to be built.