Teachers play myriad roles in educating their students. More than giving lectures, teachers are also responsible for the students’ character. A good teacher must ensure that when students graduate, they are not only successful in their career but also in their life as a person. Discipline is one important element of good character. Being disciplined means obeying every rule stimulated by an institution, in this case, the school. It is an essential element because without discipline, it is impossible for the students to control their behaviour as they do not take the rules seriously. As a result, their character will be flawed because of their disobedience. However, teachers should realise that merely obeying the rules will not teach the students anything; directing their heart towards their every action will.
First of all, there must be a reward that can motivate the students to willingly follow the rules. In this case, the reward is used as the first motivating factor to attract the students to adhere to the rules. The students need this motivating factor because most of them, as teenagers, may see rules as something that opposes them; they take rules as something that is “meant to be broken”. Thus, in order to educate them about the importance of rules, a reward is first needed. According to Wikipedia, a reward is something that when presented after a behaviour, causes that behaviour to increase in intensity or frequency. Let us take competition as an example to better understand the previous definition. Most of the students who are winning a competition, for instance math competition, will be interested to join the same type of math competition on the following years, or even try another competition which is more challenging.
This process will happen simultaneously. Even though the students may not always win the competition, they know that there will always be a probability for them to win the competition like what they previously have done. What the teachers should do, using the competition as precedent, is to reward the students who have fewer or no violation during a term or year. By doing so, they are encouraged to maintain their behavior and even do it more often as they want to receive the reward. On top of that, after the reward is given, the students will not only feel proud of themselves but they will also try not to disappoint the teachers, who have trusted them with the reward, by maintaining their disciplined behavior. This becomes a further motivation for them to keep following the rules. Therefore, as the rewards can motivate the students to obey the rules, presenting the students with reward can make them sustain their disciplined behavior at will.
Secondly, the teachers should explain the reasons why the rules are made. It is important that the students know about the importance of following the rules as well as the consequences they will face if they fail to do so. By doing so, the students will have second thoughts before deciding to break the law. In my previous school in Indonesia, the students are not allowed to bring their mobile phone to school, even if they are not using it during class. However, many of the students still bring their phone secretly and keep it inside their bags or pockets; they think it is all right to bring their phone to school as long as they do not use it during the class; they believe it will not disturb their concentration.
If the school has told them that there is a good reason behind this rule, they will have thought twice before disobeying the rule. The school should also have told them that bringing their phone to school is very dangerous as our society is not very safe: There have been some cases whereby students get robbed or even kidnapped by strangers who trespass on our school area. If the students had known about this reason before, they will absolutely not do something that will risk their own safety. Therefore, making known the reasons behind the rules to all students is an important factor that will help the students follow the rules with understanding. Not because the rules are imposed on them but because they really want to follow them, as they know that it is important for their own benefits.
Last but not least, teachers should be open when the students deliver some criticisms about the rules. In general, the students will raise their criticisms if they feel that the current rule does not efficiently work to serve its purpose and something can be done in order to refine it. It is important that the teachers consider all the criticisms and make some necessary changes so as to improve the rules. This principle is almost the same with the principle of governance in my country. For example, the rules about porno-action and pornography in Indonesia was reformed after the prominent Islamics criticized the government about the previous law as it did not uphold their religious belief. After being reformed, the rule is now more beneficial to us, Indonesians, whose majority of citizens are Islamic.
From this example, we can see that it is necessary to accept criticism from all stakeholders so that the new rules will be better than the previous ones; it satisfies the needs of all the stakeholders. Only when the students’ needs are fulfilled will the students find it beneficial to follow the rules. Besides, just like the government cannot completely know what is best for the citizens, we also cannot expect teachers to understand all the needs of the students. Therefore, we need to make the rules in school open to criticism from all students. In this way, the teachers will understand the students’ situation better so that they can revise the rules that will benefit both the teachers and the students. Thus, the students will follow the rules because they know that it will genuinely give them the advantages as they also took part in crafting the rules.
In conclusion, teachers will never be able to successfully discipline their students if the students themselves are not willing to follow the rules. The rules will never teach the students anything if they followed them just to free themselves from the punishments. They might seem to be following the rules, but their disciplined behavior might not last for a long time if it is not a genuine act from their heart. Thus, teachers should first motivate them with reward, explain the reasons behind the rules, and also accept any criticism given by the students. By doing so, students will follow the rules even without being asked because they feel motivated to follow the rules; they know the importance of following the rules; and they believe that the rules will benefit them. Only by applying these principles will the teachers be able to grow a disciplinary value that is embodied in the students’ character.