Some Ideas about Teaching



Discipline for What?


QUOTE(andy_walker @ May 19 2004, 11:13 PM)

I don't think standards of behaviour have dropped that much in schools in the 15 years I have been teaching.


Ditto this for the 30+ years I have been teaching, though individual schools go up and down depending on the quality/authority/methods of the teachers. ...

For me, the key to discipline lies in the question: 'Discipline for what?'

In much the same way as, nowadays, we are moving the focus from 'assessment of learning' to 'assessment FOR learning', the key to classroom behaviour is that you have to keep the focus on BEHAVIOUR FOR LEARNING.


Why are you establishing discipline - just to shut them up and have an easy lesson? You deserve trouble. I see teachers who seem to be teaching 'Discipline', to all intents and purposes for its own sake, in preference, apparently, to their subject! I have known teachers who can spend 20 minutes, full of long embarrassing silences, hectoring classes about how to behave. Why? Long live anarchy - if I were a teenager I'd give them hell and I still have a sneaking sympathy for the troublemakers.

Where the focus is behaviour for learning, the pupils have a reason to behave - and to misbehave becomes unreasonable.

-  How can we write/think/reflect etc if there is a row of whispering.

-  How can a group come up with ideas if it's laughing and talking about what they did last night?

-  How can we read round, or discuss, or have a debate, or give a presentation when people are shouting out, not paying attention and showing disrespect to their peers?

-  How can we perform a drama or play a game when people are getting silly and over-excited?

-  How can I explain an important point if pupils are falling asleep, or looking out of the window?


Thus we need to establish that the pupils must behave FOR A REASON. Don't get me wrong - I can shout as well as the next teacher; but when I am doing so the pupils are aware that I am being reasonable! I am merely explaining common sense points at a high level of decibels. When I am doing so I am also defending the rights of the majority against the disruption of the few; it gets your discipline down to a campaign against the few disruptives, and not against 'this class'. Even I cannot take on a whole class and win; you have to get the majority on your side.

It helps, also, when - having got the discipline for learning - your lesson is fun. Or when, at least, they have a sense that what they are doing has significance or importance.




To cite this page, use:   CLARE, JOHN D. (2004/2006), 'Discipline for What',  at Greenfield History Site (