Punishments vs. Discipline


The school I work in is very entrenched in the idea that discipline equals  punishment.

The students buy into this idea in that they seem to depend on punitive reactions from their teachers/parents. How does one help the child to move from being punishment-minded to being self-motivated?


Punishment—which is very often confused with discipline—operates on the theory that young people must be hurt to learn, that they must be harmed to instruct.

Can you recall the last time you felt bad and did something good? People do not think positively with negative feelings.

Punishments kill the very thing we are attempting to do—change behavior into something that is positive and socially appropriate.

If your school believes that YOUNG people ARE NOT YET ADULTS, then their use of IMPOSED PUNISHMENTS (a concept applied to adult behavior) should be re-examined.

Share with the faculty the National parent Teachers Association's definition of discipline:

"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: A parent's Guide" Copyright 1993 The National PTA

To help the child move from being punishment-minded to being self-motivated, teach your students the four levels of social development.

Share the website About Discipline.

We have an obligation to help the teaching profession (and parents) understand that—although imposed punishments are necessary for adults who act in socially unacceptable ways—IMPOSING THE SAME APPROACHES ON YOUNG PEOPLE is not only counterproductive but also feeds the common misconception that schools are like prisons in that use of external authoritarianism is the only way to promote leaning.