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.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines discipline in part 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 that the discipline of children is not a punishment for their misbehavior but rather instruction in the way they 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, helps teachers to restore those who are struggling with behavior problems and prevent the loss of students from their schools.
Administrating Redemptive Discipline
The discipline of a school rests heavily on administrators, especially the principal. The role principals play in creating and sustaining a disciplined school climate is very critical. They must work closely with parents, teachers, and students in order to succeed. Redemptive discipline should be a continuous process in Adventist schools. 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 good 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 and curative, and is more often used when resolving an issue. White counsels that when students are disobedient, they should be corrected but the teacher should avoid giving reproof in the presence of others. Students tend to respond best when they are spoken to separately in a quiet environment.
Effective communication is essential for the success of redemptive discipline. Part of communication is clearly communicating with students on arrival at the school what type of behavior is acceptable and unacceptable and why. Another part is clearly spelling out the consequences of misbehavior. Effective communication has a positive effect on the misbehaving student.
Reasoning out can be done either before or after a mistake has occurred. It gives erring students an opportunity to give their side of the story and an opportunity to say what they are going to do to address the mistake they have made.
All teachers should be role models of what they want their students to be. This includes showing students how we react to our mistakes and deal with those who have hurt us through their choices, among other things.
Redemptive discipline is God’s choice for redeeming the human race, and should be a continuous practice in Adventist schools. It takes the joint effort of school administrators, teachers and parents to effectively execute redemptive discipline to lead student’s toward positive behavior and 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 https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cpe/vol6/iss1/1
- Taylor, J. W. (2011). Trial or Trail? The Path to Redemptive Discipline. The Journal of Adventist Education.
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