Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
This article accentuates the importance of proper socio-historical contextualisation of the problem of discipline in schools. The authors argue that social reality cannot be separated from the social-historical development from which it emanates and that schools as social realities can therefore not be separated from the social-historical development from which they originate. The need to caution against disregarding a better understanding of disciplinary problems as well as strategies to address these disciplinary problems that is possible through a historical awareness is emphasised. We consider such a disregard or suppression of the past to be be viewed with the necessary critical suspicion with the intent at revealing underlying ideological dimensions. The argument developed by the authors is that schools mirror the societies in which they are situated and that cognisance should be taken of this when conceptualising strategies to address disciplinary problems. In the South African context this begs for the acknowledgement of the impact of centuries of colonial and apartheid oppression as they relate to current problems in the broader society and in schools. The argument developed emphasises the importance of the socio-historical contextualisation of disciplinary problems in schools as a social reality, and the need to relate problems in society to those in schools. It is further argued that the complex nature of the problems described requires a multi-faceted approach where all role players (also those outside of the school) work together with schools in an integrated manner to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate suitable strategies and to adapt these after critical reflection, should the circumstances require it. It is argued that collaboration by various state departments, those in schools, as well as the communities within which the schools are situated, is necessary to bring about social justice. Mention is also made of a number of comprehensive multi-disciplinary strategies which take proper cognisance of the relationship between social-historical context and the problem of discipline. The authors emphasize the role that educators can play in promoting the idea of a democratic society where people act independently and responsibly, inside as well as outside the school. It is the authors' conviction that the idea of a democratic society is appropriate for South Africa as the country and its people are striving to move away from its apartheid past to a long-term commitment to non-racialism, non-sexism and the achievement of social justice in all spheres of private and public life. The article strongly argues that educators should be equipped with this orientation - which the narrowly defined strategies aimed at dealing with disciplinary problems are lacking. The key argument that the article poses is that the implementation of these narrowly defined strategies in isolation is insufficient and could be of greater value as part of more comprehensive, multi-disciplinary strategies which take proper cognisance of the relationship between social-historical context and disciplinary problems. The view is supported that learners be taught to live in peace daily, without uncertainty and ambivalence, to respect different viewpoints, be critical and self-critical, have an open mind, and with the courage to take responsibility for their choices and the consequences thereof. According to the authors, such a view of education can motivate learners to act responsibly and could go a long way in ensuring that disciplinary problems in schools are eradicated.
Keywords : Discipline; socio-historical context; multi-dimensional approach; democracy; collaboration.