Generally speaking, the word discipline is used in two ways: one, to mean a way of life which, according to Scriptural directives, translates into a life of service; the other referring to a code of behaviour, a list of do’s and don’ts, including a set of consequences for misbehaviour.
Since it is difficult to have a code of behaviour without an overall consensus as to what a Christian lifestyle entails, the second definition flows out of the first one. As such, a school’s discipline policy ought to be in keeping with its overall goal, which is to prepare the students for a life of stewardship.
Discipline is an integral part of the school curriculum and environment. It is a continuous process to help the students realize their worth as image-bearers. It helps the students develop their God-given gifts as best they can while guiding them towards responsible action.
Students need the freedom and the opportunities to make decisions, to make choices and mistakes, to change their minds, to flounder and to stand up again, so they grow in their understanding of who they are, where they are, and why.
One of the most important components of good discipline is adult modeling. Good and positive modeling includes: respect for each other, adults and children; dependability and consistency; self discipline and self control; a positive and cooperative attitude; availability and approachability; encouragement instead of put downs; the honest expression of feelings, expectations, thoughts and fears instead of sarcasm and ridicule; integrity.
The second component is the teacher-student relationship. Mutual respect, and acceptance of the student as a person and daily forgiveness are basic to fostering such a relationship and crucial to the development of a harmonious classroom or school atmosphere so necessary for a wholesome and healthy learning environment.
In fact, in order for the students to develop a healthy sense of self worth as God’s image-bearer, they need to be noticed and affirmed, not in a negative way, but with dignity, affection and compassion.
Thirdly, because there is an unequal power relationship between the student and the teacher, we teachers need to use our authority wisely, lovingly, and sensitively. Otherwise, the relationship will become warped or imbalanced, often resulting in manipulation, deception or power struggles.
As teachers, it is important that we “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God”, knowing full well that we need daily forgiveness as much as the students do.
Fourthly, the policies and rules of the school need to focus on restoration and reconciliation, rather than on retribution and punishment. The intent of discipline is to alter the student’s behaviour, not out of fear for the consequences but out of a desire to fulfill God’s demands to love others as ourselves. Therefore, at TCS, following the example of the shepherd, we will discipline our students by guiding them in the right direction, in a quiet, authoritative and convincing manner, as servants who seek their well being.
We will do our best to protect, advise, encourage and gently nudge them onward, with support of our parents, so that they indeed can become the persons God intends them to be.