Discipline means obedience to a superior authority. Accepting the norms of the family, society, the commands of elders and obeying them is also discipline. Discipline means accepting punishments for violation. Discipline also means training of mind and character, developing self-control and the habit of obedience.
In the entire universe, there is an order and discipline. The stars, the planets, the earth on which we live, the moon and the sun we see, move according to a system of discipline. We can see that plants, insects, birds and animals too observe discipline in their lives, only man who has a thinking mind finds it difficult to observe discipline.
Discipline could be divided into two broad categories, external and internal. External discipline is that which is imposed by outside authority. It is often linked with authority and force. Discipline in the army is one such. Soldiers do not have a say in it except implicit obedience. As Tennyson says “Theirs not to make reply. Theirs not to reason why, theirs nut to do and die”. A soldier in a war field cannot ask for reasons. He has to obey commands; otherwise, the war is lost.
Our ancient educational system believed in enforcing discipline by force. They used to say, if you spare the rod you will spoil the child. But that view is not correct. It will produce only negative results. That is why discipline has taken a new shape in schools and colleges now. It is call self-discipline. It is discipline by acceptance, not by imposition.
We live in a democracy. Democracy is based on the will of majority of its citizens. It has to be accepted and obeyed. Otherwise democracy loses its meaning and leads to anarchy.
Family customs and traditions, laws of the society, and moral and spiritual laws of the religion are all to be obeyed. That is discipline. Discipline demands obedience to commands fro leaders, respect for women, devotion to god etc.
Though discipline starts at home, there is much more need for it in schools. Schools are nursing places for various virtues and values. Discipline in the classroom, on the playground and elsewhere in the school is all important. Force has no place in student discipline. Teachers are to be first disciplined, so one, who cannot control oneself, cannot control others. Students emulate teachers in all ways. It is more so in the matter of discipline. They observe discipline by acceptance not by force.
Some argue that discipline limits freedom and that also kills the man’s initiative. This is a wrong view. Indiscipline cannot bring order of growth. Self-discipline or discipline by acceptance is self-control. One controls his emotions and desires and gives room to listen to other’s points of views. Man has many desires and impulses. If they are allowed free play without discipline, it will end in chaos.
Nature and society are best disciplinarians. Violate their laws, and you are in for punishment. Put your finger in fire. It burns, no matter who you are. There we learn discipline by experience. That is why Gandhiji has rightly said that discipline is learn in adversity. It is therefore necessary that, if you wish to achieve anything enduring in life, you have to be first disciplined in life. Lack of discipline is like a ship without a rudder.