(Photo credit: https://bit.ly/2NsUVgm)
Firstly let’s get something clear here, I’m not talking about discipline as in teachers punishing students, I’m going to explore the idea of the role of personal discipline in the learning process for the student.
In the past all forms of discipline were left up to the teacher to instill in the student. This I don’t believe will change, but if we look at how it was done before and how that will need to change or be somehow enhanced, this is the key to understanding it and its importance.
Currently particularly at Primary School level, teachers are the boss, and all children do what the teacher say’s ‘or else!’. To a certain extent, this has some good qualities. Children are children and do need a lot of guidance on a constant basis, but what the teacher needs to do is to make sure they understand the boundaries of how much control is just too much control.
There are (unfortunately) still many teachers out there that are afraid to let a child speak or move or even (dare I say it), look at them in the eye. Culturally some areas of the world say that children can only show respect to the elders by bowing their heads in their presence. Yes, it is still prevalent. But I’m sure in a lot of places, respect is still somehow being maintained with children still feeling the freedom to explore. Children will be children after all.
But in the classroom, teachers will need to know when too much control and fear in the classroom is going to be the worst thing for a child. This is generally not a problem with the children, it is a problem with the teacher’s insecurities. Usually these kinds of teachers are on auto-pilot and tend to be ‘going through the motions’, rather than really teaching. Hopefully these kinds of teacher will be replaced by computers….and should be.
But there are the teachers who are actually good teachers, but still need to loosen up the limits of power. This comes down to excellent teacher’s college courses, and school managements support of teachers. With a lot of support, training and encouragement, the new generation teachers will discover a new power of teaching that propels children further forward than ever they could have imagined. But saying all this, the teachers does need to still learn a whole range of new discipline skills. Shifting the punishment system from themselves as the instillers of fear and dread, to the students drive to show respect and courtesy to others in order to get more from the learning.
This isn’t anything new in fact, but the process of bringing this new respect forward may well be.
Technology will play a role in this. Fortunately, most children today seem to love technology and cannot imagine their lives without it. The thought of removing tech from their bedroom, living room, classroom is unthinkable. But the first point of discipline a teacher or parent needs to instill is the child’s respect for it. Technology shouldn’t be taken for granted and must be valued for what it can do for you.
In the classroom, this could be a simple process of giving thanks to the machine! (Sounds corny I know), but in fact this could be a major turning point. If children/students can see that the machine (in whatever form that is), is there to always help them and can be switched off at any point, there could be a new found respect for it.
Respect also needs to come in the exploring process. The future of learning is all about exploring. It will no longer be about the teacher giving the answer, because the answers will be everywhere in the world around them, it will be simply up to the child to find it. So, teaching the child the skills to find these answers will be the cornerstone of education, but at the same time the teacher has to instill in the child the ‘discipline’ to keep searching. It won’t be a simple find, it needs to be a constant treasure hunt for the child.
We all know that there are children who are lazy and children who are highly motivated. These two types of children have always been around. But it is the huge middle area that will be the focus group. These are the children who simply need a clear set of skills, a gentle push, and encouragement to move forward to find what they need to find. Often the discipline part comes in when the child feels they have done enough now and can’t find the answer. This is the same in any aspect of life. To simply keep pushing on with determination is the hardest part of the journey, as all you can hear in your head is that ‘it’s pointless’, ‘there is no answer’, ‘you’re fooling yourself’, ‘it’s all a big con’…..but the more you pursue the more you discover many things you never thought were there.
This discipline to keep going is a new area of learning that needs to be developed. So long as exploration becomes the arena of learning, so too discipline and determination must accompany it. This kind of discipline needs to include the learning of these kinds of skills:
- Understanding purpose
- Sustaining resilience
- Developing sheer grit
- Maintaining reflection and evaluation
- Recognizing and managing risk
- Implementing creative troubleshooting
- Appreciating time constraints
- Accepting that failure can be an option, so long as it isn’t fatal
All these are learned skills. The teacher will have to instill these in every child before they can truly get the best out of their exploration. Ultimately these skills all add up to one important ability, the ability to stay disciplined when searching for an answer.
Currently these skills above are not specifically taught, my suggestion is that the new curriculum of the future must include these criteria so that all children/students get an equal opportunity at learning how to remain disciplined no matter the situation.