The ultimate purpose of Adventist Christian education is the restoration of human beings to the image of their maker through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. This is mainly achieved through redemptive discipline. The Christian teacher disciples and equips the learner to grow spiritually, academically, psychologically, emotionally, and socially.
Definition of the term ‘Discipline’
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines discipline as to ‘bring under control, train to obedience and order …’ To discipline an individual involves training that person to obey specific rules. Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Nancy Van Pelt clarifies the discipline of a child not as punishment for their misbehavior but rather instruction for the way in which he should go.
The Aim of Redemptive Discipline
The aim of redemptive discipline is to change students into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Additionally, Ellen White views the objective of discipline as the training of the child for self-government. The wrongdoer is led to see his fault and is given an opportunity to change. The student is helped to know God more deeply and to understand more clearly His design for their life. Redemptive discipline, therefore, enables teachers to prevent the loss of students and to restore those who are involved in behavior problems.
The Administration of Redemptive Discipline in Adventist Christian Schools
The discipline of a school heavily rests on administrators, especially the principal. The role he/she plays in trying to create and sustain a disciplined school climate is very critical. He/she must work closely with parents, teachers, and students in order to succeed. Redemptive discipline should be a continuous process in Adventist Christian schools.
White counsels that when students are disobedient, they should be corrected but the teacher should avoid making public the faults of an erring student. He/she should avoid giving reproof in the presence of others. Redemptive discipline measures in the Adventist Christian school include guidance and counseling, communicating, reasoning out, and role modeling.
Guidance and Counseling. Guidance and counseling are measures that promote high discipline in students. Guidance is primarily preventive and attempts to bring out an acceptable behavior in students, while also providing advice and direction to students. Counseling, on the other hand, is both preventive as well as curative. Counseling is a service rendered, more often than not, in an attempt to resolve an issue. My experience as a Christian educator indicates that students tend to respond better to verbal warnings when they are spoken to separately in a quiet environment.
Communicating. Effective communication determines the success of redemptive discipline. It involves informing the student upon his/her initial arrival at the school what type of behavior is acceptable/unacceptable and why. It also clearly spells out the consequences of misbehavior. Effective communication has a positive effect on the misbehaving student.
Reasoning Out. Reasoning out can be done either before or after a mistake has occurred. It gives the erring student an opportunity to be heard when he/she gives his/her side of the story. The student is given an opportunity to say what he/she is going to do to address the mistake he/she has done.
Role Modeling. All teachers should be role models of what they want their students to be.
In conclusion, it is observed that redemptive discipline is God’s choice for redeeming the human race, which should be a continuous practice in Adventist Christian schools. It takes the joint effort of school administrators, teachers and parents to effectively execute redemptive discipline in an attempt to win the student’s eternal salvation.
How can you administer redemptive discipline in the classroom today?
- Taylor, C. P. (2013). “The Need for Redemptive Discipline in the Christian School.” Christian Perspectives in Education, 6 (1), 1-9. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cpe/vol6/iss1/1
- Taylor, J. W. (2011). Trial or Trail? The Path to Redemptive Discipline. The Journal of Adventist Education.