School Discipline Problems

Methods of maintaining discipline in schools are not always successful. The misbehavior of children is common in all schools, although most schools managed to keep this within tolerable limits. Occasionally, however, poor disciplinary management within school can cause a more general breakdown in order.

In modern years this has been popularly characterized by violence against teachers and other children. This is, of course, not a new problem. The public schools of eighteenth and nineteenth century England, for instance, were subject to a number of violent armed uprising and violence against teachers was a common phenomenon throughout the nineteenth century. Even low levels of indiscipline at school can result in a detrimental working environment for children and good teaching will often depend on good school discipline.

Effective discipline requires the consent, either explicit or tacit, of parents and pupils. Whilst few children will enjoy punishment, most will submit to it providing it is perceived as being equitable.

Moreover, to be effective, punishment should never appear arbitrary. School hierarchies award teachers great power over their students and the perceived abuse of this power to punish children in arbitrary ways can be the source of much resentment and hostility.

Problems with school discipline has also led to a reduction in the number of people willing to become teachers, especially in high schools or schools regarded as being difficult. Student misbehavior and rudeness is the leading cause of teacher resignations. In some areas and countries, this has led to a severe teacher shortage, with classes either not taught, or taught by an unqualified person. In some schools, a senior class, for example, may have up to a dozen different teachers in a single year, as the replacements decide to leave rather than deal with student behavior. Many countries are now trying to offer incentives to new teachers to remain in such schools, but with very limited success.

The effects of classroom discipline can be compared to emotional abuse, the teacher in the role of abuser and students in the role of unwanted victimization. Merely a game of power and domination.