Classroom Discipline for Catholic Teachers by Fr. Tierney (part 1)

teacher and teaching

Other than having a good spirit, a prerequisite for effective teaching and student learning, is cultivating a congenial environment where students can learn without distraction.

A classroom that has discipline is a happy class.

Under no circumstances should classrooms be places for anything other learning. They are not drop in clubs, youth centres, community hubs or comedy theatres.

The teacher who allows their class to disintegrate harms not only their own reputation but worse still, the education of their wards.

The administration that turns a blind eye to chaotic classrooms likewise performs an ongoing dereliction of duty.

And so we should always keep an eye on discipline and like a good mechanic not just repair faults but service and preempt problems.

Fr. Tierney who we have met in a previous book review gives some great advice on discipline and the teacher. For bite size reading I have split this material into five parts over two weeks. Here goes…

Efficient mental and moral training depends, to a large extent, on good discipline. For on the one hand, disorder distracts and disconcerts the teacher and wastes his energy, while on the other, it renders impossible the attention and calmness of mind, without which pupils can neither acquire nor retain knowledge.

Moreover boys cannot live long in an atmosphere of riot without moral hurt. Their ideals are shattered and their wills either become wayward or grow slack of purpose and effort.

In their disrespect for the representative of authority they learn to despise authority itself. Revolt against the master is often a prelude to formal contempt of the office and power of all superiors.

The consequences of this are serious enough to make every teacher take thought about his responsibility for them. Without doubt he has a far reaching duty in this matter which he cannot neglect.

For his office obliges him to discipline, not precisely that he may teach with ease and comfort to himself, but rather that he may train the souls of his pupils.

To do this effectively, the teacher must first discipline himself. The undisciplined master is the centre and source of a vast amount of the disorder so common in the class-rooms.

His defects and deficiencies react on those in his charge and drive them to contumely, for which they had no natural inclination in the beginning.

Boys will not tolerate a noisy demagogue, nor a poor punster, any more than they will abide an irascible tyrant, whose chief distinction lies, not in brains, but in strong muscles and a bass voice.

Their young lives may be made miserable, but they will demand and get the pound of flesh, and the blood, too. In the end they will be the masters.

The good disciplinarian then must himself be disciplined. The man who has not subjugated himself cannot expect to rule others.

He has failed to conquer the one closest to himself, and has no
reason to expect success in governing those separated from him by the widest and most unintelligible of all finite gulfs, a different personality.

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