Discipline Is The Problem — Not The Solution
Discipline has long been considered an essential aspect of education, believing that strict rules and punishment are necessary to maintain order and ensure effective learning.
However, there is growing evidence that discipline, in the form of corporal punishment such as caning, is ineffective and harmful to students, teachers, and the educational system.
This is particularly relevant in Kenya, where caning students are legally punishable. This article will explore the argument that discipline is not the solution but rather the problem in the Kenyan educational context, where corporal punishment persists despite legal prohibition.
One of the main reasons discipline is considered a problem in Kenya is because it often takes the form of corporal punishment, which involves physical violence against students. Despite being banned by the Kenyan government in 2001, corporal punishment continues to be used in schools, with many teachers still resorting to caning or beating to enforce discipline.
This perpetuates a cycle of violence, where students are subjected to physical harm, leading to fear, anxiety, and even trauma. Instead of promoting a safe and nurturing learning environment, corporal punishment creates a culture of fear and intimidation, which is detrimental to students’ psychological well-being and inhibits their ability to learn and thrive.
Moreover, corporal punishment is harmful not only to students but also to teachers. Teachers who rely on caning or other forms of physical punishment may experience stress, guilt, and burnout due to their actions’ ethical and legal implications.
They may also face professional consequences, such as damage to their reputation or legal repercussions if caught using corporal punishment despite its prohibition.
This creates a challenging situation for teachers who feel torn between the expectation to maintain discipline and the legal and moral obligations to provide their students with a safe and supportive learning environment.
Instead of viewing discipline as a solution, teachers may see it as a problem that creates conflicts and ethical dilemmas in their practice.
Furthermore, corporal punishment in Kenya reflects deeper systemic issues within the education system.
It can be seen as a symptom of a more significant problem, where schools may lack proper resources, support systems, and training for teachers to manage behaviour effectively without resorting to physical punishment. Many schools in Kenya face challenges such as overcrowded classrooms, inadequate infrastructure, and limited access to professional development for teachers.
In such a context, discipline becomes a convenient but ineffective shortcut to managing students’ behaviour rather than addressing the root causes of the problem. It is crucial to recognize that discipline should not be a standalone solution but rather an integrated approach that considers the holistic well-being of students, teachers, and the broader educational system.
Evidence supports the argument that discipline is not the solution but rather the problem in the Kenyan educational context. Research has shown that corporal punishment does not lead to long-term behaviour change and may even adversely affect students’ academic performance, mental health, and social-emotional development.
In contrast, positive discipline strategies, such as setting clear expectations, promoting positive relationships, and teaching conflict resolution skills, are more effective in creating a conducive learning environment and fostering positive student outcomes.
These strategies focus on prevention and early intervention rather than punishment. They aim to teach students self-regulation skills and responsibility for their actions, which are critical for future success.
In addition, alternative models of discipline have been successfully implemented in other countries and could serve as examples for Kenya to follow. For instance, restorative justice practices, which emphasize repairing relationships, resolving conflicts, and restoring harm, effectively promote positive behaviour and reduce disciplinary issues in schools.
These practices involve dialogue, mediation, and problem-solving approaches that empower students to take responsibility for their actions and learn from their mistakes rather than being punished.
Restorative justice practices build a sense of community and foster a culture of mutual respect and accountability, which can contribute to a more positive and inclusive learning environment. Furthermore, it is essential to recognize that discipline should not be viewed in isolation but as part of a holistic approach to education.
This includes addressing underlying factors that contribute to behavioural issues, such as poverty, trauma, and inequality, and providing appropriate support and interventions to students who may be struggling.
This requires a systemic approach that involves collaboration among teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders to create a supportive and inclusive educational environment that promotes positive behaviour and academic success.
In Kenya, efforts have been made to promote positive discipline practices and eliminate corporal punishment from schools. The Kenyan government has banned corporal punishment in schools, and there are ongoing initiatives to raise awareness about the harmful effects of corporal punishment and promote positive discipline strategies.
However, despite these efforts, the practice of caning or other forms of corporal punishment still persists in some schools due to various cultural, social, and institutional factors. This highlights the need for continued advocacy, education, and systemic changes to shift the mindset from discipline as a problem to discipline as a holistic and positive approach to education.
In conclusion, discipline is not the solution but rather the problem in Kenyan education, where corporal punishment persists despite legal prohibition. Corporal punishment harms students, teachers, and the educational system as a whole, creating a culture of fear, intimidation, and violence.
Instead of relying on punishment, adopting positive discipline strategies that focus on prevention, early intervention, and fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment is crucial.
This requires a systemic approach that addresses underlying factors contributing to behavioural issues and promotes stakeholder collaboration. Efforts should continue to raise awareness, provide training and resources, and advocate for positive discipline practices in Kenya’s educational system.
By shifting the mindset from discipline as a problem to discipline as a holistic approach, we can promote a safe, inclusive, and effective educational environment that nurtures the well-being and success of all students.
Discipline Is The Problem — Not The Solution