Consider Discipline Before Disciplining

For those who teach pre-K through 12, the act of discipline is something teachers deal with weekly, if not at times daily in a classroom. In today’s culture, the role of the parent has either been nearly lost in public education or at times overly control by parents in private education. I recently listened to a helpful lecture,”The Heart of Covenant Discipline” by Matt Whitling at Wordmp3.com.  

Understanding of the Content
Matt Whitling begins his lecture on “The Heart of Covenant Discipline” by asking his listener’s “what is their paradigm for parenting?” From there he establishes his premise that God’s covenantal relationship with mankind is how a parent might understand their role as a father and mother parenting a child. As Christian parents, we are called to imitate God, Ephesians 5:1, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” This covenantal structure and imitating God is passed on to the teacher when a father and or mother places their child in the classroom of a teacher. This paradigm of God and his children gives parents and teachers the example in how they are to follow God in disciplining his children in love.

Reflection of the Content
Since discipline is an expression of love (Proverbs 13:24) and parents have entrusted us, as teachers, with their precious children, it is fully necessary that we follow through with discipline in the classroom. Discipline, as that specific portion of discipleship wherein a negative consequence is brought to bear against a specific sinful action, should be meted out in such a way that it helps the child to expose the idol that he is allowing to rule his heart at that time. By assisting the child to see what he was viewing as most important at the time he was in sin he can be directed through scripture to repent of a particular sin and begin the process of reconciling with God and the sinned against party(ies). If that discipline is met with rebellion the principal and ultimately the child’s parents will need to be notified so that that discipline can continue to be followed through with at home. The teacher should be in prayer for the child’s repentance and restoration throughout this process.

A Practical Application
The most practical application in Whitling’s lecture is the role of the teacher with the student’s parent(s). At times, I find myself on the defense when I receive emails or phone calls from a parent regarding a student in my class. Whitling’s argument is that if teachers were to understand their role in discipline, they would see such emails and phone calls as an opportunity to work with parents in training their children. When parents faithfully train their child, it should be seen as an act of love. Likewise, the teacher having been given a parent’s student should consider in every act of discipline how love is displayed like that of God dealing with his people. Here lies where the teacher looks forward to working with mom and dad in properly, in love, disciplining a child/student so they might see Christ greater afterwards than they did before.