Freedom Requires Discipline

Self-discipline has been seen by many as a positive character trait and key to success in many realms. Gradually developing and enabling students to have a reasoned self-discipline rather than one (ultimately) externally imposed could allow for deeper, profounder long term effects. As Plato says: “The first and best victory is to conquer self.”

The Traditional Teacher

An icon of narcissistic self destruction: the 'Easy Rider' chopper. An icon of narcissistic self-destruction: the ‘Easy Rider’ chopper.

A colleague of mine recently asked his pupils if they considered themselves free. Their reply was unhesitating: “Of course I am! I can do whatever I want!”

But does freedom consist of the untrammeled pursuit of personal desires?

When I wake up in the morning to the sound of the alarm, I am free, in theory, to turn it off and go back to sleep. I often want to do that. But I don’t, because I need to catch an early train into London. If I did what I wanted, I would not be able to keep my job. I would lose the freedom to practise the profession I love.

When I drive to the station to catch my train, I am free in theory to drive on the right hand side of the road. There is no wall to stop…

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