The Purpose of Discipline at WCS
By Dr. Roger Erdvig
WCS is adding a new Dean of Students position to our Administration Team. When people hear this news, they often think first of someone who will handle all the discipline in the school – keeping everyone in order. While he or she will be responsible for the discipline process, our view of discipline is much more holistic than that and has goals that go far beyond mere behavior management.
At WCS, we view school discipline in a Biblical “shepherding,” or discipleship, motif. As such, we are concerned not only with external behavior, but also with how that behavior reflects the heart condition of our students. Scripture often describes the heart as the control center of one’s life. Therefore, behavior does not randomly spring out of a person; it is always a reflection of a deeper, unseen reality – a person’s heart. Of course, one’s environment does exert tremendous shaping pressure on a person, but ultimately, an individual determines his or her own actions. And one’s actions are determined by the heart.
Our task as Christian educators (and parents, too) is to evaluate and shape students’ behavior in order to create an environment in which the heart can be changed. Our ultimate goal is t o help students to develop a heart that is shaped like Jesus’ heart so that Christlike behavior will be our students’ natural pattern in life.
Of course, there are also pragmatic, immediate reasons to have a well-disciplined student body. A school’s primary reason for being is to facilitate student learning. For genuine learning to occur, the school and its classrooms must be orderly, and disruptions must be kept to a minimum. A school plagued by uncontrolled behavior problems will be one where effective learning and discipleship cannot occur.
The ideal ethos of the entire school is one in which students feel loved and valued; honor their leaders, teachers, and one another; and know and respect the guidelines for how our community operates. When these essential elements are in place, students are more likely to be engaged in learning, and the opportunities for our teachers to provide Godly influence will be greater. The very mission of WCS, which involves teaching with excellence in the classroom and through life-on-life influence, requires that our school environment be Christ-centered, pleasant, and well-ordered. This applies to everywhere in our school: the classrooms, the athletic fields, and the hallways.
The framework for discipline at WCS is a “culture of honor,” both at the school and classroom levels. Honor, as used in Romans 12:10, can be defined as “attaching great worth or value to someone else.” Turansky and Miller, authors of Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids, further describe honor with three specific practical facets of honor:
Our new Dean of Students will lead our efforts to cultivate an environment at WCS that is marked by Biblical honor. At the same time, we realize that we cannot “manage” our students into a right relationship with Christ. Therefore, he or she will also be attentive to the spiritual state of our students, encouraging them to submit their lives to Christ and experience the new birth as we understand from John 3:16. While it is an oft-quoted verse, we sometimes forget that the starting place for a good life is not in changing our behavior. It is in submitting to the Lord of the universe, confessing that we are sinners who are incapable of being good, and bridging the gap between God and us on our own. Only as we accept Christ’s payment for our sins and live in His righteousness alone can our lives be reshaped to be like His, resulting in the kind of environment that we believe is best for student learning and growth.
Would you pray with us to find the right person to serve as our Dean of Students? And, will you also pray for our entire student body—that those who already know Christ would be emboldened to live for Him and that those who do not will confess their sin and submit their lives to Christ?
Thanks for being a part of the WCS extended family.
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