Handling learner discipline problems: A psycho-social whole school approach


Learner discipline is a problem in South African schools. The most serious aspect is addressing learner-discipline problems. Research has shown that teachers are at a loss for effective methods for maintaining discipline. The literature that does exist pertaining to methods of maintaining discipline, invariably enumerates a host of techniques in a ‘bag of tricks’ fashion: behaviouristic, like treating symptoms, that is, the behavioural manifestation rather than addressing the causes of that behaviour, paying no attention to the psychic dynamics and social context behind poor discipline. This is at variance with the fact that learner-discipline problems have a causal base which reaches far beyond the individual teacher–individual learner interaction. At the levels of the school, family and society, as well as at the level of the spiritual and social functioning of the child and how that might result in discipline problems, and how that should be taken into account when addressing learner discipline problems, a host of literature has been published in recent years. This article surveys this literature, synthesising it in a systematic way that shows a broader and more extensive way of approaching the issue of the problems of addressing learner discipline in South African schools. Although the problem of ill discipline in schools is not limited to or absent from schools that educate on biblical principles, the discussion in the literature occasionally ventures into a brief mention of how the problem could be approached from a holistic and integrated Christian perspective.