The school administrator’s professional reputation depends on the standard of discipline in his/her school more than on any other factor. Good discipline brings good results in every field of school endeavor (Griffin, 1994). On the other hand, poor discipline can become problematic for all of the administrators involved. The major challenge for school faculty then becomes how they will choose to deal with the host of problems that will inevitably be presented throughout the school year.
This is where the role of the school administrator or principal will play a vital role in the involvement of the school discipline. However, the work called upon in order to enact the proper disciplinary structure cannot be effective without a strong support team. That’s why the principal needs to work with his administrative team and teachers in the formulation of the school discipline policy based on the needs of the school and built upon the Christian doctrine of redemption. In it, the school’s vision, aim, and mission should be included and thereafter placed before the student so that he/she can be convinced of its justice and obey the rules he/she took part to formulate (White, 1943; Park Christian School, 2004).
Since the term “redemptive” is borrowed from the Christian doctrine, the leader himself should be a Christian at heart in order to appropriately project Christian leadership and foster understanding for the primary goal of restoring the wrongdoer to the school community (Knight, 1982). According to Botha (2006), redemption is a borrowed word from Christian doctrine noted as the work of God to save man from sin through the confession of wrongs, receiving forgiveness, providing restitution, and finally, being reconciled with God. Similarly, in a school set up regarding redemptive discipline, the learner is led to experience forgiveness, restitution in the relationship, accountability for behavior, and restoration back to the school community. In essence, redemptive discipline includes a process of attitudes or behaviors that are is characterized by the principles of love, fairness, justice, mercy, and compassion.
Each educational institution should be a city of refuge. It should be a place where folly is dealt with patiently and wisely, and where the object of reproof is gained only when the wrongdoer himself is led to see his fault and his will enlisted for correction (White, 1952). This is because discipline in a Christian institution is built upon the need to restore the lost image of God in each student (White, 1962). The need to implement redemptive discipline in Adventist Church institutions is relevant in order to awaken the moral as well as the spiritual faculties of the learner as he develops into a useful member of this world and the world to come.
Ombuor (2005) observed that the use of the rod was outdated while any other form of discipline should not be done in anger and any form of physical punishment ought to be completely avoided because of its mental and physical afflictions. Instead, school administrators ought to have a structured code of conduct which in most cases is enough to instill the required discipline.
Further, for the redemptive model of discipline to succeed, the school administrators must be aware of how to enact such discipline. One challenge with this, however, is noted by McDaniel’s work (as cited by Tauber et al., 1999) — there is no or little training in school discipline for most teachers who enter the teaching profession.
To address this matter based on the above need, Joyce and Showers’ works (as cited by Ward, 2007) affirm that there is an urgency to improve teacher’s skills to better understand the issues that affect misbehavior. School administrators should provide comprehensive and unending training opportunities for all the staff in the management of redemptive discipline. In addition to that, this awareness level should be evaluated regularly in order to assess whether it is working, along with its challenges and further how to best improve the whole process (Classen & Abebe, 2007).
Nelson (2002) explains some ways that teachers and administrators can build self-awareness in their schools, and that is to:
• Hold awareness campaigns during the parent-teacher conferences, Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings, newsletters, and student handbooks
• Display the school rules and guidelines on posters and place them within different parts of the school. (i.e. – school halls). Also, clearly outline the consequences for not following said guidelines and ensure that you are constantly reinforcing the student’s awareness of these rules.
• Produce films about the school rules which will stimulate community awareness and better orient the transfer students.
• Involve students in a forum where they can freely express their opinions on school life. Encourage students to help one another, so as to continue to foster a sense of community.
What are some ways that the model of redemptive discipline can be beautifully illuminated in your own school environment?