Choice is the key

22nd February 2008 at 00:00
Is school discipline breaking down? Do we need more of it? Despite David Cameron and everybody else's protestations, little will be achieved educationally by imposing ever more draconian discipline in schools.

It is an unpopular view, but it has to be faced: the nation's youth suffers under the yoke of formal education. Schooling is imposed by a society that thinks young people should learn certain things whether they like it or not. Hence the need for discipline.

Discipline is designed to be unpleasant in order to get children to apply themselves to what is often unpalatable. Many a pupil learns out of pressure or pure fear, but learning of this kind does not last because students find it hateful. True learning occurs when a person chooses what he wants to learn.

Of course, people such as athletes will submit to any amount of self-imposed discipline in order to achieve their goals. Enforced learning, however, will never work efficiently or effectively. It simply creates opposition, conflict and, in the end, misery for both teachers and taught.

The inflicting of discipline on emerging minds in the name of education has had its day. We must look to devise a system where such discipline is unnecessary. Those who cry out for more discipline in our schools do not understand human nature. Any worthwhile human activity has to be based upon choice.

A.J. Marsden, Retired, Bury, Lancashire.

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