The word discipline is akin to the word disciple. Discipline in one sense means learning, just as the word disciple refers to one who learns. Additional meanings of discipline suggest the complexity of the subject as it pertains to individuals (in this case specifically minors) and the U.S. public school system. Discipline refers to training and experience that corrects, molds, and strengthens individuals’ mental faculties and moral character. It also refers to punishment that intends to correct and that is enforced by those in authority or may be self-imposed.

Discipline likewise refers to the control gained by enforcing obedience, and it pertains to the systematic orderly behavior defined by codes or rules set forth by institutions for their members. Moreover, discipline refers to self-control and to the development of skills that help individuals resist temptation, act positively, and function both independently and cooperatively in ways that enhance personal development and community life. All of these definitions have been central to educators’ efforts to find the most effective and useful way to support child development and learning.

Inside Definition