Most people misunderstand the term “discipline.” A university professor once told me this term is so negative that he never uses it. Instead, he uses the phrase “classroom management.” As with so many educators, the professor mistakenly used these two terms as if they were synonymous. On the contrary, classroom management is about making instruction and learning efficient. This is the teacher’s responsibility. Discipline is about behavior and is the student’s responsibility. (More clarification between the two is available at www.marvinmarshall.com/classroom_management.html.)
The ultimate goal of discipline is self-discipline—the kind of self-control that underlies voluntary compliance with expected standards. This is the discipline of mature character that a civilized society expects of its citizens. John Goodlad, one of my former professors, said that the first public purpose of schooling is to develop civility. This can only be achieved with self-discipline. In order for a society or classroom to be civil, discipline needs to be fostered. Yet, according to Richard E. Clark, Chair of the Division of Educational Psychology at the University of Southern California:
Discipline is understood in a very limited way by most educators—“How do we get these children to behave?”—rather than, “How do we support the people in our charge as they learn to channel and direct their positive energy in ways that accomplish their goals and those of their community?”
Although discipline is often referred to as punishment, this is only one of many interpretations of the word. In fact, Dr. Lee Salk, the author of eight books on family relationships and a former popular commentator on social change, domestic strife, and changing family patterns, stated in Familyhood: Nurturing the Values that Matter, on page 47: “What discipline is not is punishment.” He also stated,
“Discipline isn’t a dirty word. Far from it! Discipline is the one thing that separates us from chaos and anarchy. Discipline implies timing. It’s the precursor to good behavior, and it never comes from bad behavior. People who associate discipline with punishment have a shortsighted view of discipline. With discipline, punishment is unnecessary.”
The National Parent Teachers Association agrees. Their publication, “Discipline: A Parent's Guide,” states,
"To many people, discipline means punishment. But, actually, to discipline means to teach. Rather than punishment, discipline should be a positive way of helping and guiding children to achieve self-control."
“Discipline” is derived from the Latin word “disciplina,” which means instruction. The original meaning of the word connotes the self-discipline necessary to master a task. This is the self-discipline of the competitive athlete, of the professional musician, of the master craftsman, of the expert in any field.
This type of discipline does not come from someone else telling a person what to do. Neither does this type of discipline come from receiving some external reward. External approaches to discipline such as telling, rewarding, threatening, and punishing are manipulative and rarely have long-lasting positive effects.
In her book The Caring Teacher’s Guide to Discipline: Helping Young Students Learn Self-Control, Responsibility, and Respect, Marilyn Gootman writes that discipline is teaching self-control, not controlling or managing students. (p. 17)
Julie Andrews believes that discipline is liberating. As she put it,
“Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.”
A disciplined life leads to responsibility, increased effectiveness, and improved relationships. The book Discipline without Stress, Punishments, or Rewards teaches how to live a self-disciplined life, become more responsible, increase effectiveness, and improve relationships. And perhaps, just as important, it shares how to teach young people to WANT to be self-disciplined--both in behavior and in putting forth effort in their own learning. These are the topics covered each month in the electronic newsletter, "Promoting Responsibility and Learning" found at www.MarvinMarshall.com/newsletters.
His approach is the only system that is proactive, totally noncoercive, and does not use external manipulatives or threats. He INDUCES students to WANT to act responsibly and WANT to put forth effort to learn.
His book, "Discipline without Stress® Punishments or Rewards - How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning" is used in schools, universities, and homes around the world. The book clearly and concisely demonstrates how external approaches of relying on rules, imposing consequences, rewarding students for appropriate behavior, and punishing students to make them obey are all counterproductive. His approach reduces stress and is more effective than traditional approaches that focus on obedience because obedience does not create desire.
A prime reason that the approach is the fastest growing discipline and learning system in the country and is taught in so many universities is that it teaches students to understand differences between internal and external motivation. A second reason is that the focus is on promoting responsibility; obedience then follows as a natural by-product. A third reason is that the system separates the deed from the doer, the act from the actor, a good kid from irresponsible behavior, thereby eliminating the natural tendency for a student to self-defend.
He offers the following resources to learn and support his approach:
http://www.marvinmarshall.com This is the foundational site that links to the teaching model, shares how a school can conduct its own in-house staff development, and contains free information for implementation. For a quick understanding of his approach, link to "THE HIERARCHY" and "IMPULSE MANAGEMENT."
http://www.disciplinewithoutstress.com This is the website for the best-selling book on discipline and learning. Three sections of the book are online: Classroom Meetings, Collaboration for Quality Learning, and Reducing Perfectionism.
http://www.AboutDiscipline.com explains reasons that external approaches - such as rewarding appropriate behavior, telling students what to do, and punishing them if they don’t - are not used to promote responsible behavior.