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Philosophy of Discipline
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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 outlinedprocess (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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