Does Discipline Mean "Sit Still, Keep Quiet"

What is wrong with a Quiet-Still Environment for a child?

Think about the mother of a small child and her instinct and her reaction. If for some period of time she does not hear any sound, crash, whining and the place appears eerily quiet, the mother instinct tells her that there is some thing wrong. It is unnatural for a child to be silent. There must be something wrong. The mother quickly gets on her toes to locate where her little one is and does not rest until she has located where the child is. And lo and behold her instincts tell her right that where there is no sound it is either some king of a mischief or some problem when the child is not making any noise. We thus conclude that silence indicates that the child is not doing his natural work, i.e. discovering, experimenting, testing, playing and exploring. All these are the natural processes through which a child learns. By excluding all of these activities from his daily schedule because managing them for a large bunch of children is impractical, the children are herded together in cramped classrooms, made to sit still and quiet and suppressing their natural learning and stimulus for growth.

What is it that a doctor enquires from the mother when she goes with a medical complaint about her child. The doctor typically asks whether the child is active and playful. If the answer to this is in the affirmative, the doctor would reassure the mother that there is nothing to worry about. However, if the mother tells him that the child is quietly lying down on the bed and not moving or playing, or noisy, then the doctor would get really worried and would explore the condition in much greater detail. Hence, being quiet, silent and sitting still is an unnatural state for a growing child.

A system that equates discpline with sitting still and being quiet, does not understand the meaning of discipline.

A person is disciplined if he has the ability to strive for his objective without getting distracted and diverted. A child who is single mindedly pursuing his objective and is throwing tantrums and is not considering the threats, cajoling and incentives being offered is in fact much more displined than another child for whom a single instruction from an adult is enough to make him sit down quietly and abandon his pursuit. The challenge in such cases is whether the child has an objective which is worth pursuing or not. But, this is the responsibility of the elders and school officials to ensure that each child has a worthwhile and an exciting goal to pursue.

The discipline that we need to be teaching the child in a school is not of threat, humiliation, or imprisonment. Discipline is not taking away the liberty to be curious and exploring new things and new ideas. Discipline does not mean stopping the children from trying out new experiments just because spilling and breaking of things would create a mess that would be difficult to clean. Discipline does not mean that we should stop the kids from coming up with innovative ideas of doing things because many of such ideas may not work and may fail. Discipline should not be stopping the child from taking initiative that may break the tradition. Discipline should not mean that it should always be the higher authority making the rules and imposing order, rather it is enabling the kids to make their own rules to resolve disputes and abiding by them.

Discipline that we need to be teaching is that of self motivation, commitment to work, discovering an avenue where the child can excel, making the child interested in a pursuit that may become his or her life long objective, kindling in child a passion for excellence and not leaving his work mid way, in a half hearted fashion. Discipline is the commitment not to let go without taking a task to its natural completion. Discipline is dedication to complete the task without being distracted or diverted. Discipline is working to the best of our ability not for an external reward or threat of punishment but working to fulfill our own potential, our own destiny, for our internal satisfaction. A kid is disciplined if he considers the work to be its own reward, doing it the best he can should become his enjoyment in its own right.

We need to have the discipline to pursue our life-long quest for becoming ashraful makhlooqaat, discovering our objective and place in this universe, travelling and finding out what was the fate of people who rejected the truth, and the quest for what is right and rejection of what is wrong.