Philosophy of classroom dicipline Essay

This essay has a total of 757 words and 4 pages.

Philosophy of classroom dicipline

Philosophy of Classroom Discipline

"Power is exercised only over free subjects, and only insofar as they are free. By this we
mean individual or collective subjects who are faced with a field of possibilities in
which several ways of behaving, several reactions and diverse compartments may be
realized." (Foucault)


Foucault and Heidegger, modern philosophers, both describe power in these terms, as the
facility to manipulate an object without force. Understanding this point of view is
important, not only for state institutions who attempt to exert power over citizens and
deviants, but also for teachers as they try to use disciplinary power to control the
events in their classroom. Unfortunately, the majority of status quo disciplinary systems
are entrenched in the mindset that power can be exerted over individuals through the use
of coercive punishments and threats, actions which usually have the complete opposite
result, less control over the students. A system that more closely mirrors Thomas Gordon's
view of discipline as self-control would be a far superior disciplinary model because it
recognizes the true nature of power.


Thomas Gordon's disciplinary model specifically critiques the use of coercion and
intimidation to exert power and control over students. Coercion to Gordon only reinforces
a notion that violence is an acceptable form of control. Additionally, coerced and
intimidated students will often retaliate against authority figures who attempt to exert
coercive power. This sometimes can only escalate an incident or situation that a teacher
was hoping to douse with the use of power. The truth is that students are the only ones
who can make the decision to behave well or conform to teacher expectations. Recognizing
this leads one to note that instead of forcing a student to behave well, a teacher needs
to influence a student in a positive way.


The question is what does a teacher do to positively influence students without exerting
coercive control? Gordon points out that the best way to resolve and prevent situations of
misbehavior and deviance in the classroom is to first recognize who owns the problem. In a
situation where students are disrupting the class, for example, a teacher should be sure
to use messages to indicate that the problem is affecting the teacher in a negative way,
forcing the students to decide if they want to continue their disruptive activity instead
of immediately going on the defensive against what they may think is an over controlling
warden. Additionally, using the no-lose method of conflict resolution allows students to
have a positive way out of a bad situation, instead of a forced punishment with no control
over the situation. By allowing the student to have power over the student, the teacher in
these instances is able to wield true power and is more likely to maintain a well behaved
and efficient classroom environment.
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