I came across a great article by Mr Lock today describing the transformation that has been occurring at his school over the last year.(You can read it here.) It got me thinking.
Discipline in my mind is such a draconian word with negative connotations. Corporal punishment (yep I remember that), being made to do something you don’t want to. It’s something that happens to you. But self-discipline on the other hand, is central to a fulfilling life. I’m not sure why it took me so long to make this connection but this realization only happened in the last couple of years. When my nephew turned thirteen I wrote him a letter and one of the topics was self discipline. Simply put, “It’s the ability to make yourself do things that need to be done and not be distracted by things you’d rather be doing.” Of course this is one of my main challenges in life, sometimes called the squirrel syndrome, but now I am aware of my short comings I am working hard at improving it.
I digress. The piece by Lock is an open an honest critique of how they have turned behaviour around at their school. Some of the comments were pretty accusatory with reference to how the turnaround had been achieved. With specific reference to the exclusion policy and in particular permanent exclusion. But here’s the thing. If there is no discipline in school there will be little effective learning. As educators we are tasked with directing the learning of all our students. I have worked in schools where one or two students have been so disruptive that the classroom stopped being a place of education simply because they were unwilling to participate and would go out of their way to make learning difficult if not impossible for everyone else. Now granted these situations can be turned around and I have been part of that process as well but when all options have been explored and there is no change then permanent exclusion must be an option. As Spock so eloquently put it.
“The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few.”
Everyone deserves the very best education we can deliver but they need to be willing to participate and if they won’t then the ultimate sanction must be available. I’ve seen first hand where it is not and it doesn’t work, not for the students and not for the staff. So bravo Mr Lock, it’s great to hear that there are people out there with convictions that lead to positive change.