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Creating a Philosophy of Discipline

Posted By Amanda Leaman, Monday, March 17, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Creating a Philosophy of Discipline

A philosophy of discipline: maximize effectiveness of disciplinary measures (to foster moral and ethical growth) 


Every school has a discipline policy, yet very few schools have articulated their


of discipline. Thoughtful schools are now beginning to do so and for good reason. Why does it matter? It matters in at least two ways: first, because the short term goals in many discipline policies work against the long term goals of the school's mission; and second, because how a school "does discipline" has a powerful effect on the school's moral and ethical culture. Since every school has (and should have) at least occasional discipline problems, these situations offer excellent avenues to foster--or to undermine--moral development. 


Discipline policies usually aim first at curtailing misbehavior, and then try to do so in a way that is (a) relatively fair, (b) relatively easy to administer, and (c) relatively free of practices that could be criticized by either outsiders or a court of law. 


These considerations all look at the short term, however, or at ease of administration. The way a school addresses disciplinary infractions should be seen as an extension of the school's mission-guided goals, which are long-term goals.



What Does a Philosophy of Discipline Include?
  1. A foundational statement (a sentence or two might suffice) of the school's beliefs about human nature from which the rest will flow.   

  2. A statement regarding the school's position on the purpose of education. What we want to accomplish as a school (e.g. compassionate leadership, lifelong learning, self-management of behavior).   

  3. A general statement regarding how the school's disciplinary policies align with the first two statements.      
  4. An outlined  process (ideally, flexible) that the school intends to follow in regards to points 1, 2, and 3. 

For more in-depth guiding questions to shape and refine a philosophy, including a sample, 


click here for some guiding questions to shape a philosophy (member resource)


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Posted By Amanda Leaman, Thursday, January 23, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

With the recent updating of CSEE’s Handbook for Developing and Sustaining Honor Systems, the issue of academic integrity is on our minds. Here are a few observations worth thinking about:

  • Students are less likely to cheat when they perceive that cheating does not happen regularly among their peers. 
  • Students cheat less (and develop integrity more) when they perceive that their teachers are caring.
  • Classrooms that are mastery-focused (deep learning of material), rather than performance-focused (focus on grades & awards), are likely to see less cheating.
  • The more students and faculty can be involved with the honor system (drafting or revising the code, answering surveys, giving input, etc.), the more they will buy into the honor system.

How can schools educate students to prevent infractions (intentional or accidental) of integrity?

  • Do workshops for incoming students on how to properly - and confidently - use resources, cite sources, etc. 
  • Have academic departments make students aware of their definition of, and expectations regarding, collaboration and tutoring.
  • Allow student-led Honor Education Committees to visit classrooms or advisory groups to discuss case studies about cheating, or to demystify how the honor system / council works.
  • Have celebratory “Honor Weeks” featuring guest speakers, open discussion forums, special readings or film viewings like Quiz Show, The Emperor’s Club, or School Ties. Some schools have planned a “Day Without Honor” where students reflect on what their community would be like if no one lived honorably (stolen laptops, copied homework, pop quizzes in every class).
  • Have students research the honor policy at the colleges they plan to apply to.

In addition to the nuts and bolts of honor systems (how to develop a code, how to configure and train a council, how to address a case), the second edition of the Handbook includes an updated appendix, with sample codes, documents, and ideas from independent schools across north america. 

Where this book excels is in its increased focus on the honor education program, and how to promote academic integrity.

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