Pragmatism and the Problem of Discipline – Essay
There is no place for a strict and rigid disciplinarian in a pragmatist school. A moralist, duty-for-duty-sake man, a holier than-thou-practitioner will find no place in a pragmatist school. The activities of the school are to be so organized as to make them meet the needs of a pupil’s nervous system, and also with his earnest desire to make him a fit citizen of the world around him.
Under such circumstances there will be no need of discipline of the realist kind. The pragmatist student overcomes his difficulties joyfully and he does not need any reward for the same. If the activity is directed towards the student’s own self-expression, no appeal will be necessary to “sheer strength of will”, nor will the teacher be required to make things interesting to the child.
Some authorities are of the opinion that “the student should work at his work and play at his play.” But the pragmatist says that the work and play may naturally go together. Therefore, it is quite safe to expect a child “to play at his work and to work at his play.” Dewey says, “Play is not to be identified with anything which the child externally does.
It rather designates his mental attitude in its entirety and in its unity. It is the free play, the interplay, of all the child’s powers, thoughts, and physical movements, in embodying, in a satisfying form, his own images and interests.” If the work in the school is so arranged as to appeal to the natural interests of the students the problem of discipline will not exist at all
Finally, we may conclude that the realist believes in discipline, ‘in the cultivation of objectivity’, and in ‘the submission of the self, to the faces of physical reality.’ The idealist discards external control as a method of discipline.
He believes in the cultivation of a subjective power towards the development of a transcendental self free of all forces within and without the pragmatist, too, rejects external control as a method of discipline, but for a different purpose.
He does not recognize the value of transcendental self. To him the interest of the child is strictly empirical, biological and social. Hence to him the problem of discipline is meaningless.