Bridgetymology: Discipline

TODAY, I AM COMING TO YOU AS A PARENT OF A TODDLER AND A NEWBORN, WHO QUITE HONESTLY REALLY DOESN’T HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER! IN A STORM OF GOOGLE SEARCHES ON HOW TO GET MY TODDLER TO STOP THROWING THINGS FOR FUN, I’VE EXPLORED SEVERAL THEORIES OF DISCIPLINE.

PRIOR TO HAVING KIDS, MY MAIN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WORD DISCIPLINE WAS THROUGH THE CONCEPT OF SELF-DISCIPLINE. SELF-DISCIPLINE WITH HEALTH AND FITNESS, SELF-DISCIPLINE TO EARN ACADEMIC DEGREES, SELF-DISCIPLINE TO KEEP WORKING AWAY AT SOMETHING (LIKE CREATING THIS PODCAST) UNTIL IT BECAME A REALITY.

BUT NOW THAT I AM IN THIS POSITION OF NEEDING TO USE DISCIPLINE TO HELP MY DAUGHTER GROW AND DEVELOP AS A RESPONSIBLE AND SAFE LITTLE HUMAN, IT’S LIKE I NEED TO LEARN IT ALL OVER AGAIN. DO I NEED TO BE DISCIPLINED ON DISCIPLINE?

IN TODAY’S EPISODE, ASHA IS BREAKING DOWN THE WORD DISCIPLINE!

meaning of ‘discipline’ today

I’M DEFINITELY READY TO DIVE DEEPER INTO THE ROOT ORIGIN OF THE WORD DISCIPLINE!

NOW, WE KNOW THAT DISCIPLINE IS USED AS A NOUN AND A VERB AND THAT IT CAN REFER TO A QUALITY THAT ONE USES ON ONESELF, OR IT CAN BE APPLIED TO OTHERS.

ACCORDING TO MERRIAM-WEBSTER, THE FIRST MEANING OF DISCIPLINE IS SELF-CONTROL, CONTROL GAINED BY ENFORCING OBEDIENCE OR A PRESCRIBED PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR.

THE SECOND DEFINITION IS PUNISHMENT. THIS IS THE DEFINITION THAT COMES TO MIND WHEN WE THINK OF THE UNRULY LITTLE KIDS OF THE WORLD, RIGHT?

BUT AS I LOOK AT MY DAUGHTER’S SWEET LITTLE FACE, I WONDER… IS PUNISHING HER THE BEST WAY TO GUIDE HER? AS I DOVE DEEPER INTO THE OTHER MEANINGS OF THE WORD AND GOT CLOSER TO THE ORIGINAL ROOT MEANINGS, THIS QUESTION ANSWERED ITSELF! STAY WITH ME…

roots of the word discipline

IF WE GO BACK TO THE EARLIEST ORIGINS, THE WORD STARTED FROM THE LATIN WORD FOR PUPIL, DISCIPULUS. THE ROOT OF DISCIPULUS IS UNCERTAIN… THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY SUGGESTS IT COULD  BE FROM DISCERE “TO LEARN,” FROM A REDUPLICATED FORM OF THE PROTO INDO EURPEAN ROOT *DEK- “TO TAKE, ACCEPT.” THAT DEK ROOT IS THE FOUNDATION FOR A GREAT NUMBER OF WORDS. DECENCY, DECORUM, DOCUMENT, DOCTOR, DIGNITY, ORTHODOX, DOGMA, DECORATION. THESE WORDS ALL HAVE DIFFERENT MEANINGS, BUT WITH A WIDE LENS WE MIGHT AGREE THAT THEY ALL HAVE A SENSE OF ACCEPTANCE OR GRACE TO THEM.

OTHER SCHOLARS, BARNHART AND KLEIN, INSTEAD BELIEVE THAT DISCIPULUS COMES FROM A LOST COMPOUND *DISCIPERE “TO GRASP INTELLECTUALLY, ANALYZE THOROUGHLY,” WHICH COME FROM FROM DIS- WHICH MEANS “APART” + CAPERE WHICH MEANS “TO TAKE, TAKE HOLD OF.”

SO OUR TWO MAIN OPTIONS FOR THE ORIGINAL ORIGINAL ROOT OF DISCIPLINE ARE THE IDEAS OF “GRACIOUS ACCEPTANCE” AND “TO TAKE APART”.

DISCIPULUS ALSO THE ROOT FOR THE WORD DISCIPLE… A DISCIPLE IS “ONE WHO FOLLOWS ANOTHER FOR THE PURPOSE OF LEARNING,” ESPECIALLY “THE PERSONAL FOLLOWERS OF JESUS CHRIST DURING HIS LIFE, THE TWELVE APOSTLES CHOSEN OR CALLED BY HIM TO BE HIS IMMEDIATE ASSOCIATES.”

FROM DISCIPULUS, CAME THE LATIN WORD DISCIPLINA, MEANING INSTRUCTION DIVEN, TEACHING, LEARNING, KNOWLEDGE, PARTICULARLY IN SCIENCE OR MILITARY PRACTICES.

discipline vs. punishment

WHEN WE LOOK AT THE DEFINITIONS OF DISCIPLINE AS A VERB, THE FIRST IS TO PUNISH OR PENALIZE FOR THE SAKE OF ENFORCING OBEDIENCE AND PERFECTING MORAL CHARACTER. BUT THE SECOND IS TO TRAIN OR DEVELOP BY INSTRUCTION AND EXERCISE ESPECIALLY IN SELF-CONTROL.

MY TAKEAWAY FROM THE DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS IS THAT OUR CURRENT, MORE COMMON USE OF THE WORD DISCIPLINE HAS A BIT OF A HASH, NEGATIVE CONNOTATION TO IT. AS IN, TO DISCIPLINE IS TO PUNISH AND CORRECT. HOWEVER, IT SEEMS THAT SOME MEANINGS ARE A BIT MORE NUANCED, AND I AM INTRIGUED.

THEN WE SAW OLD FRENCH’S DESCIPLINE, WHICH REFERRED TO PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT FOR THE SAKE OF LEARNING. THIS USE PRIMARILY APPLIED TO RELIGIOUS MARTYRDOM OF THE TIME, SUCH AS SELF-FLAGELLATION OR OTHER SUFFERING FOR THE SAKE OF A HIGHER GOOD.

FROM THAT SOURCE CAME OUR ENGLISH WORD FOR DISCIPLINE, AS WE DEFINED EARLIER IN THE EPISODE. WHILE THE WORD DEFINITELY HAS SOME HARSHNESS TO ITS MEANING, DISSECTING THE ROOTS ALSO REVEALED THAT DISCIPLINE ALSO INVOLVES LEARNING, GRACE, AND HIGHER GOOD. AS I LOOK AT MY DAUGHTERS AND CONSIDER THE NEXT GENERATION, THIS GIVES ME HOPE.

the multiple types of discipline

WITH FURTHER RESEARCH, I ALSO LEARNED THAT THERE ARE MULTIPLE TYPES OF DISCIPLINE. PREVENTATIVE DISCIPLINE INVOLVES CLEARLY COMMUNICATING RULES, REWARDING GOOD BEHAVIOR, EXPLAINING CONSEQUENCES, AND ESTABLISHING TRUST WITH A PUPIL. SUPPORTIVE DISCIPLINE INVOLVES WARNINGS, CONFIDENT REACTIONS AND REDIRECTIONS OF DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR, AND REMINDERS OF RULES. AND ONLY WHEN THOSE TWO DON’T WORK, DO WE NEED TO RESORT TO CORRECTIVE DISCIPLINE, REMOVING A STUDENT FROM A SETTING OR IMPLEMENTING A CONSEQUENCE.

ANOTHER MEANING IS TRAINING THAT CORRECTS, MOLDS OR PERFECTS THE MENTAL FACULTIES OR MORAL CHARACTER. IT ALSO MEANS A FIELD OF STUDY. AS IN THE DISCIPLINE OF ECONOMICS OR THE DISCIPLINE OF PSYCHOLOGY.

THE LAST MEANING OF DISCIPLINE AS A NOUN WAS MARKED IN THE DICTIONARY AS OBSOLETE… NO LONGER IN USE. THIS LAST MEANING DEFINED DISCIPLINE AS INSTRUCTION. SOUNDS A LITTLE LESS MEAN THAN THE PUNISHMENT DEFINITION RIGHT?

conclusion

THIS BRIDGETYMOLOGY WAS A LITTLE LONG AND WINDING BUT IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, MAYBE YOU ALSO TOOK AWAY THAT TO DISCIPLINE, ONE MUST HAVE SOME SELF-DISCIPLINE.

TEACHING AND LEARNING IS GIVE AND TAKE, AND BOTH POSITIONS REQUIRE A BIT OF GRACE.

WE HAVE TO TAKE A HIT, EVEN SUFFER A LITTLE TO LEARN LIFE’S LESSONS, BUT HOPEFULLY THAT TAKING APART OUR EXPERIENCES HELPS US DISCOVER THE GREATER GOOD FOR ALL.

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