chapter  3
17 Pages

Rules, education and moral development

In this chapter the possible educational value of institutional rules and social norms will be explored, as rules and social norms often drive processes of discipline in education. Initially, the ubiquity of educational rules will be noted. The bulk of the chapter will entail mapping out three rulesbased accounts of discipline in schools. In particular, it will be argued that Kant, Durkheim and John Wilson all in different ways held that discipline in schools: 1) is vital for moral education and development and; 2) should fi rst and foremost initiate students into impersonal rules that apply to all, regardless of circumstance. I will thereafter argue that aspects of such thinking about discipline continue to be apparent in education policy and practice today – the best example of this being zero tolerance approaches in US schools. While Kant undoubtedly thought discipline should aim to curb unruliness in students, he also thought education (and any discipline that is part of it) ought to aim at the future improvement of all of humanity via the cultivation of moral autonomy in persons. Zero tolerance approaches to discipline in contrast have no such noble (if naive) aspirations. I conclude the chapter by arguing that it is a conceptual error to think that impersonal rules-based approaches to discipline in education can work for the good of all. Unfortunately, this is a conceptual error that has all too often also become ingrained in educational policy and practice.