Discipline in Schools

Posted on May 31, 2011 by


The first thing I noticed when I first walked into a Georgian public school was the chaos in the hallways. Children running, children play-fighting, children real-fighting. Students and teachers stopped in clusters, having conversations in the halls and on stairwells, making getting around them a real challenge. Students turning off the hall lights. Students yelling at the top of their lungs.

No school I have ever gone to has allowed running in the hallways. When I was in elementary school, students were never unsupervised – we had to line up outside our classroom before class, in two rows, and we were made to stand there until everyone was still and quiet before the teachers would let us come in and sit down. If we had to go to lunch we walked in that double line, with our teacher accompanying us. We were never allowed in the halls without a hall pass, so if we wanted to go to the bathroom the teacher had to give us one.

I considered schools in America to be comparatively lax – we never had to wear uniforms, we were allowed to leave class to go to the bathroom or to get water, we had recess and activities, we had a bunch of free time, and sometimes teachers had problems enforcing discipline (especially my third grade teacher, who I now reluctantly sympathize with after years of resentment) – but schools in Georgia seem to have no rules and no structure for their students outside of that which the individual teacher provides within the classroom.

I find myself questioning the need for order and discipline – what good would it do to have students behave a certain way in between classes? – and honestly I’m not really sure. I mean, it would certainly make getting back and forth within the school quicker and safer for everyone. It might keep students from getting riled up between classes and then coming into class already yelling, fighting, and bouncing off the walls. It might make students take the entire school experience more seriously. It might cut down on in-school injuries as well as more subtle problems like the potential for bullying. It might instill students with a greater respect for or disposition towards orderly conduct – something that might serve Georgians in other areas, such as driving on roads.

Then again, it might do none of those things. I could just be trying to rationalize a desire for things here to be like they were when I was growing up – something that’s a very strong natural human tendency.

So what do you think about school discipline? Is it something worth pursuing? Is it something you even notice?