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Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Many people believe that discipline and punishment is the same thing. This is not true. Discipline is the process of aligning or correcting behaviour to within a code of ethics.
When a pimple breaks on your skin, you want to correct your skin to its normal state. Punishment is a reward for breaking-out against the normal state or code. Interventions are used to exterminate the pimple such as antibiotics that kill the boil and excise it before creams are used to restore the skin to its natural state.  The pimple can grow again depending on how far its roots extend. The pimple (or iceberg) below teaches multiple lessons on the structure of discipline and indiscipline.
Discipline may or may not involve punishment. Those who breakout are usually punished. Whereas normal discipline is not a stressful, it is deliberate and involving. Those who do not breakout also need discipline through reminding and streamlining of their behaviour. Thus, discipline helps those who subject themselves to it acquire (live) by a code of ethics (lifestyle) that does not invite punishment.
Indiscipline is behaviour that is deliberate, wilful and disobedient with calculated (wicked) motive or intent to hurt steal or take advantage. These four elements are important because they form the basic framework for correcting addressing indiscipline.
Discipline is critical because it stops a person’s gradual decent into crime. A child who is not disciplined descends into crime and if they stay there long enough they become criminals. This is why parents and teachers should strive to give each child the GIFT of discipline. Yes and it is a gift many people wish they had.  Discipline is a lifelong companion of immeasurable worth. It is of greater value than sweets, play stations and money. If a teacher gives a child discipline and nothing else, the child will find all he needs in life. A child without discipline will never find anything they need. Everything takes discipline.

These seven levels can also serve to measure the seriousness of the infraction. The depth also indicates the length of time needed to instil discipline. Level seven may take years to correct while level one which may take a few minutes.
Biblical approaches to correction call for immediate measures in training children in the book of proverbs. The New Testament calls for a personal confrontation and private rebuke and then public banishment. The Old Testament shows God punishing hidden sins in public and consequences for generations to come.
Some people prefer one method of correction and use it all the time.  They either use direct, indirect, private or public reprimand. However, ALL these methods are used in the Bible. In all these methods the principle is to REPRIMAND ERROR not necessarily that the person will reform (this is what is hoped for, but some people won’t) but that all men may know right from wrong and preserve and respect the peace by which all men live and honour God who has given man the freedom of choice and consequence.
Eastern tradition does not shy away from public reprimand. Western approaches emphasise private punishment. They do not wish to embarrass the wrong doer in public. In African culture, discipline is an accepted social practice. Though modern society leans towards the west, there is great value in eastern cultures.  Praise in public and punishment in private hides offenders and sometimes lets them go free. We may need to be more firm in our approach to discipline to save future generations of mediocrity by praising in public and punishing in public as well.

Allan Bukusi, June 2012

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