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Education of a Child

Discipleship or Discipline

Often when new students attend TLE they descriptively tell me how things were done in their “old” school. These comments are especially explicit when it comes to discipline. They make the assumption that obviously the staff does not know how to make the students behave. I am pretty certain that many parents have like assumptions but are too polite to give their advice. Although there is a place for making students behave it should never be out of fear, because there is no fear in love. Fear has torment and this is one reason that children don't like school. A friend asked me once why my own children obeyed me, the answer was that oldest obeyed from fear, the middle one from logic, and the last from love. It was indicative of the depth of my relationship with Jesus as they were being raised.

The root of the word discipline is the word disciple. The joint charter of parents, educators and the body of the church is to disciple. Although ruling with logic is better than fear, it is love that never fails. Loves suffers long. Raising a child to be self-governed takes more time and patience than forced obedience. However, forced obedience instead of instilling a love for virtue and knowledge, will of the contrary give them a general distaste for both and lose the love of which you should alone seek to inspire them. When a teacher makes himself beloved by them, they will be open with you; and they will not fear to let you see their faults. (The Education of a Child, Fenelon 1687)

Critical thinking is best enriched in a relaxed atmosphere, where dialogue and discussion are encouraged. When students feel safe they are not reticent to share their faults and mistakes thereby they soon begin to disciple each other. Thus virtue is celebrated in the culture and both love and forgiveness flows. Another way of inspiring students to virtue is through the use of great literature, which provides, preemptive instruction against all matters of vice. The Bible read aloud as well as many other delightful character building stories. When students begin to relate to the characters they learn that they too have a locus of control. They realize that they are in control of the events that influence their lives. Even when things are outside their control, they can still control how they respond. It is their choice to allow the trial to press them into the image of Jesus or feed a rebellious spirit. Their choices matter and outcomes are not at the mercy of chance.

Angela Duckworth, has done extensive research on what make people successful. (I recommend her TED talk on it.) She has discovered that the common attribute is something she describes as “GRIT.” The ability to push through, “GRIT” is not developed through either the carrot or stick approach. Both carrot and stick approaches may produce performance but never mastery. In my experience people become gritty when they seek mastery. Realizing that they are created worthy, God created each of us special and unique. This is why TLE rejects John Dewey's education of a collective in favor of the individualized approach of the Ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks and of our master teacher, Jesus.

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