Saturday, October 3, 2009

Three Kinds of Discipline

You have gone through almost all the disciplines illustrated in this blog, yet you may not be aware that these disciplines can be categorized in few broad areas.

According to John Holt, the disciplines can be categorized in three broad areas. How many of you have learnt things hard way? I remember days when I rented a bicycle and went on to road. I fell down many times, in fact had injuries but a vigor and strive to learn kept me going. In other example, one day, I left my 1 year daughter on second floor at home and got busy in doing something. Few minutes later, oblivious to the fact that she has climbed down; I was looking for her on second floor and was astounded by finding her one level down. Since then I have seen her growing, climbing down the stairs on her tummy, then on her foot, and climbing up the stairs on her knees and legs and now by leaning on railing. This kind of discipline we call as the Discipline of Nature or of Reality. A child meets this kind of discipline every time he or she tries to do something. This discipline is very important in child’s growth. Parents should allow kids to take chances to do things, with caution, instead of just reading or listening to someone talk. This discipline is a vicarious teacher and the learner gets an instant answer. For example, if you do not hit the nail squarely on the head, it bends and you need to pull it out and start with another. You not only see what you have done wrong, but also realize why and what you need to do instead. Interestingly, you cannot blame anybody except the nature which is impersonal, impartial and indifferent. This discipline is the fact of life and remains unchanged culture to culture, country to country, rich to poor, and man to woman.

As time progresses, child crawls, figures out the obstacles in the path and how to overcome, stand on feet, walks, knowing where the obstacles are, and finally runs, knowing where to go and how to get there. The child slowly becomes part of society and learns the culture of the society in which he or she resides. This kind of discipline we call as the Discipline of Culture or of Society. Human being is a social, a cultural animal. Culture can't be defined specifically because it has different meaning for each individual. It is dependent on the circumstances in a society someone grows up. The definition of culture develops with the individual's experiences. This discipline varies obviously from country to country, rich to poor, man to woman. I plan to detail out culture in my next blog. Keep watching this space!

As time progresses, child grows up in a society, finish schooling, starts working for livelihood, gets married, becomes parent and cycle restarts but in a different role. Now he or she starts playing a parent role at home and a worker at the job. This discipline is the one most people mean when they speak of discipline – the Discipline of Superior Force. Parents cannot afford to allow small kids to play in a busy street, touch boiling hot water, or eat up the pills from the medicine cabinet. Parents teach kids to avoid doing such things otherwise punish them. The kid may not have any idea what it would be if hit by a car, but can sense what it would be if parents shout at them, or spank. We all know carrot and stick approach; A approach that gets followed many times at work where supervisor warns a subordinate to not to do certain things but then uses stick approach if warning is ignored. We ought to use this discipline only when it is necessary to protect the life, work environment, health, safety or well-being of people or other living creatures or to prevent destruction of things that people care about. The sooner the kid avoids the danger, not to escape our punishment, but as a matter of discretion, the better. In India, for example, I saw many children crossing the road oblivious to the fact that one race car can end their life. It is parents’ responsibility to guide kids and as a good citizen to watch out while driving on the road.

In summary, we can put disciplines in to three broad categories, i.e. Discipline of Nature, Discipline of Culture and Discipline of Force. We do not have much control over Discipline of Nature and Discipline of Culture but we have controller over Discipline of Force. We need to have cognitive judgment before applying this discipline.

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