Modern Myths: No.3: Children need discipline
You don't have to look very far, in the current climate, to find this myth being fuelled, furthered and funded on a vast scale. In fact, stand still for long enough and it comes to find you. Along with the one about relative poverty, it is being used to sanction incoming laws which will restrict our liberty and lead to forced state interference into private family life.
With a funky new image, name and website, here is the Respect agenda, which is the shop window for the 'new reforms'. Read and be awed ;-)
Tony Blair is panicking about the nanny state argument and refutes it before anyone has chance to make it in every speech he makes and article he writes about this issue. Here he is in his article for The Sun newspaper nine days ago:
"The 'nanny state' argument applied to this is just rubbish. No one's talking about interfering with normal family life. But life isn't normal if you've got 12-year-olds out every night, drinking and creating a nuisance on the street, with their parents either not knowing or not caring. In these circumstances, a bit of nannying, with sticks and carrots, is what the local community needs, let alone the child."
Sticks and carrots. Well, that's the nature of the power system we call authority. Based on the principle that most people are innately bad or stupid and need strict coercion to be made to comply with society's interests, we set up our systems to try to control each other thus.
But I think the nature of power is changing. Authority (power over others) is on its way out, thank goodness. People increasingly don't trust it, don't like it and don't want to work with it. Its 'fluffy, liberal' couterpart, autonomy is the kind of power system we're moving into. Ancient belief systems, including Mayans and Taoists refer to these contrasting types of power as male and female, respectively. In I Ching terms, we're talking about the first principle (The Creative) and the second principle (The Receptive) - yang and yin, which swap places roughly every two thousand years.
Just to prove Tim's stereotype theory ^^ here's the image, which you can if you like imagine to be slowly rotating through 180 degrees every 2 millennia or so. You can picture me wearing pink or yellow-lensed shades at the same time also, if it helps!
Each kind of power has its benefits and drawbacks in equal measure, of course, and it is not the purpose of this post to denigrate the essence of male, creative, authoritative power - only to say that because of the changing time in which we're living, that those methods and systems are becoming less effective - hence our current social disorder problems. A government who authoritatively, desperately clings onto the old kind of power is a government who fails to understand the situation and which completely wastes its time and energy.
Well, I've been a mother/stepmother for twenty years now and I have found through trial and error that imposing rules, regulations, boundaries, sticks and carrots on children is not the best way to create a harmonious, educational environment for them at this time. Sure, it will work to some extent and with limited effect, but it's very difficult to impose and there is always a backlash: i.e. the child will rebel eventually. If you are very strict and you impose a system of full surveillance, you may delay this rebellion for years, but not forever.
I have dozens of empirical accounts to back up my conclusions in this respect, but in the interests of brevity will just blog a few key ones.
This is a time when people need to work their decisions out for themselves. They need to try different ways of living to find the one that suits them the best. Being told what to do and coerced into doing it can only have a negative effect on people now, because it impedes their own personal, autonomous development - the dominant type of power and therefore the motivation that intrinsically drives us all at the present time.
My contention is that the only way to successfully, positively affect other people now is to teach by example, on the learner's terms and at their spontaneous request. There is no other method that will be 100% successful, without unwanted side-effects.