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The Negotiation of Discipline

A few days ago, we had a presentation at school by our principal and a representative of CollegeBoard in India, Ms. Lisa Jain. CollegeBoard, for those of you who haven't heard of it (until recently, I myself had no idea who they were), is the organization that sets the SAT exams. Ms. Jain was there to elucidate the advantages of the SAT exams and how we ought to prepare for them. The principal was there to tell us about why we chose the AS-level syllabus.

Now, as much as I wish I could tell you that I was listening to both presentations with rapt attention, I can't. There's no way I could sit for an hour while all my classmates are sitting around making comments sotto voce. However, there were a few moments where I was paying attention. During one of those moments, I happened to hear my principal say something about negotiable and non-negotiable rules in terms of discipline.

The reason this caught my attention was because the concept of a negotiable in discipline is not something I've heard of before. In my (admittedly limited) experience, discipline simply is; either you follow it or you do fifty push-ups. However, my principal (or whoever is setting the rules) doesn't seem to agree with me.

The way it seems to work here is that any rule can be changed if it can be shown as being pointless or if a better alternative is proposed. While that may be the case in many schools, what amazed me was the fact that the students' suggestions are taken seriously. In my old school, for instance, we could go to the headmistress's office and prostrate ourselves at her feet, begging her to allow us to change something about the school, and still our pleas would come to naught. Here, though, we simply asked the principal for permission to bring our phones to school - something which hasn't been allowed in the past on account of there was no proper solution proposed - and the suggestion was accepted.

I, personally, think that the idea of negotiable rules is a fantastic idea. It allows for innovation and for the pruning of archaic rules. It also gives us an incentive to follow the rules, seeing as they are rules that we laid down, at least in part, by ourselves. I'd love to know, though, what you, O reader, think of the idea. Let me know down below, there's a comments section and you don't even need to log in to your Google account to comment anymore.

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