‘A person is a person because of others’: Challenges to meanings of discipline in South African and UK schools

Gillean McCluskey*, Mirriam Lephalala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this article the authors consider current understandings of discipline in schools in the United Kingdom and South Africa. The concern is with exploring the discipline/punishment/power nexus in education in both countries; with how reductionist versions of discipline as authoritarianism interweave with views about the aims and perceived need for punishment in schools, and how this is driven by perceptions of a need to maintain control or power over young people, often viewed as a ‘generation of suspects’. The authors argue that a restorative approach can be used to build more inclusive school communities where staff and students negotiate new meanings of discipline and power. Some of the key challenges associated with a restorative approach are then explored in detail and the notion of ubuntu – ‘A person is a person because of others' – strongly associated with the new South Africa and its reassertion of traditional principles and values, is suggested as a useful compass for future development in both countries. In very different contexts, but facing many of the same challenges, the authors ask: What can the United Kingdom learn from South Africa and what can South Africa learn from the United Kingdom?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-30
Number of pages13
JournalPower and Education
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010

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