Why Discipline is Different Today

Manufacturing—building tangibles—led and fed the economies in the 19th and 20th centuries. There were a few originators, but most people were followers. Obedience, implementation of rules, and top-down management were the orders of the day.

What drives our 21st century? The creation and distribution of information. Rather than compliance, initiative is required.

People rarely will work for one company all their lives. Increasingly, many people are now working as independent contractors instead of working for others. The number of individual entrepreneurs is continually growing. People in their twenties are planning their retirements forty years in advance because they no longer believe that traditional retirements will suffice in their older years. The society of the 21st century requires initiative—not merely following someone else’s plans for you.

Society is involved in complex social relationships—both personal and professional. Work and social interactions are increasingly collaborative. Authoritarian approaches no longer work. Compliance is out; collaboration is in. And this requires new ways of dealing with others.

The overriding characteristic of the 19th and 20th centuries revolved around who made the decision. Similarly, the overriding characteristic of the 21st century revolves around who makes the decision. A prime difference is that the THE DECISION-MAKER HAS CHANGED.

Too many schools and parents are still using an obedience model—Level C of the social development hierarchy. But society has moved to Level D and we as teachers, leaders, and parents have a responsibility to prepare the younger generation for the society in which they are now residing.

As a reminder, the FOUR LEVELS OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT are designed to help us DISCIPLINE, or TEACH, our students how to SUCCEED AT SCHOOL AND IN LIFE. The first two levels (Levels A and B) are not acceptable at school. ANARCHY is the absence of order and is characterized by chaos. Next is BULLYING or BOSSING which is characterized by bothering or bossing others and breaks our standards at school.

The top two levels (Levels C and D) are both acceptable at school. COOPERATION is when a person is considerate and complies with requests, but the MOTIVATION IS EXTERNAL—either from peers or adults. DEMOCRACY is our goal for all students. This level is characterized by SELF-DISCIPLINE, INITIATIVE, and displaying RESPONSIBILITY because it is the right thing to do. A person’s MOTIVATION IS INTERNAL, and this is the highest level on the social development continuum.

By teaching students what it means to function in a democracy, we are supporting students in LEARNING HOW TO MAKE GOOD CHOICES, as well as SUPPORTING THE GOALS OF OUR SCHOOL, COMMUNITY, AND NATION.