"By Education is a discipline, is meant the discipline of habits formed definitely and thoughtfully, whether habits of mind or body." ~~ Charlotte Mason
Are you a disciplinarian?
Do you want to be one?
Charlotte Mason says that if she were, hypothetically, asked about discipline-that-really-means-punishment, she would say that punishment has a necessary time and place. Like medicine. A necessary evil. She says, "But punishment, like physic, is a casualty only of occasional occurrence at the worst, and punishment and physic alike are reduced to a minimum in proportion as we secure healthy conditions of body and mind."
Oh my, the connections that pop up here.
I'll start with our middle-school standby, Uncle Eric (Richard J. Maybury). Uncle Eric preaches against big prisons full of lots of people being punished for lots of things. For one thing, they're expensive; they eat up taxpayers' money. In his view, prevention of crime would be much more advantageous than an overdeveloped penal system. Sick societies are expensive to run. So in a healthy society, yes, we would probably have jails, but they wouldn't have a lot of inmates.
Then there's Louisa May Alcott's novel Eight Cousins. It's a good story, but it's also a mouthpiece for Alcott's views on healthy lifestyle. Rose is being cared for by a clutch of aunts, and most of them have particular agendas for her. One in particular, gloomy Aunt Myra, insists on seeing Rose as sickly, and would use any excuse to dose her with favourite medicines. In a rather troubling aside, it's hinted that Aunt Myra may have "dosed" her own daughter to death. Clearly this is a well-meaning woman who should be given a wide berth.
But into the story comes Uncle Alec, a doctor, who takes away Rose's morning coffee, as well as her corset and her silly dresses, and makes her go out and play and build up her constitution. "Healthy conditions of body and mind." Aunt Myra's medicines are to be avoided at all costs; but even Uncle Alec's would be reserved for actual sickness. Later in the book, Rose does catch pleurisy, ironically, when Uncle Alec pushes his "healthfulness" envelope a little too far, and Aunt Myra gets her chance to gloat...but not to medicate.
What part does Discipline play in Uncle Alec's approach to health? What part does it play in Uncle Eric's just society? We think that Uncle Alec (or Alcott) and Uncle Eric (or Maybury) would, like Charlotte Mason, say something about method vs. system.
"We have a method of education, it is true [not a system], but method is no more than a way to an end, and is free, yielding, adaptive as Nature herself. Method has a few comprehensive laws according to which details shape themselves, as one naturally shapes one's behaviour to the acknowledged law that fire burns. (Ooh, Natural Law!) System, on the contrary, has an infinity of rules and instructions as to what you are to do and how you are to do it. (Political Law?) Method in education follows Nature humbly; stands aside and gives her fair play." ~~ Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children, chapter 16"Not mere spurts of occasional punishment, but the incessant watchfulness and endeavour which go to the forming and preserving of the habits of the good life, is what we mean by discipline; and, from this point of view, never were there such disciplinarians as the parents who labour on the lines we would indicate. Every habit of courtesy, consideration, order, neatness, punctuality, truthfulness, is itself a schoolmaster, and orders life with the most unfailing diligence." ~~ C.M., same.
If you want to read a whole chapter of Charlotte Mason's thinking on discipline, the place to go is her Volume 2, Chapter 16.