Discipline: Who Needs It?

Except when used to describe a branch of knowledge, discipline is something of a hot issue these days. Too often it seems to mean something that someone is imposing on someone else who doesn't want it anyway. Or one segment of society thinks of it as something that another segment lacks, while the others see it as infringing on their liberty.

For some mothers, discipline and obedience are pretty synonymous. Caught up in the "I-can't-get-him (or her) -to-bed, -wear-his-rubbers, -do-his-homework, or whatever" syndrome, they know discipline of some kind is a crying want.

As a student teacher, discipline once meant to me—quite simply —getting the children to do what I asked them to do. And I couldn't. The more I tried, the worse I failed. The crisis came on my first teaching practice. With supervisors popping into the classroom, making ominous-looking notes in their notebooks, my confidence was down to zero. The first day was a fiasco. I managed to keep the children—fifty boys and girls, nine-year-olds—in the classroom, but that was about all. I was certain I was going to fail.

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Have You Reached a Verdict?
June 5, 1971

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