CHAPTER ONE

                          OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY


This chapter will focus on the rationale, the context, the problem statement and the
purpose of this study. The background and logical grounding on which the research is
conducted will also receive attention. The study’s paradigmatic perspective will be
discussed together with the clarification of the key concepts. An overview of the study’s
research method and design will also be done. An outline of the chapters of the study
will be tabled.    The chapter will be concluded by a short summary of what its
considerations were.


Below are the factors that justified the need for this research. These will involve the
situational context and background realities behind the disciplinary problems at
secondary schools and the expected role and contribution of educators in restoring and
sustaining discipline at rural township schools.

1.2.1 Life has limits and there are always boundaries to be kept or respected.

As part of their natural process of growing up and maturing to become independent and
stand on their own, children need exposure and experience of discipline. This should give
them the opportunity to learn, practice and demonstrate some ability to be responsible
and accountable, without needing or expecting someone to supervise them or monitor
what they say or do. They need to learn to differentiate and choose between actions or
conduct that are, as Ginott (1965:76-78) outlines them:

   socially accepted, promoted and communally sanctioned;

   not sanctioned but tolerated for specific reasons - this should accommodate the room
   to learn from mistakes, mistakes tolerated for the sake of expected future
   improvements or special stress situations under exceptional crisis circumstances; and

   not tolerated, at all, and must be stopped - this includes behaviour forbidden for
   reasons of law, ethics, individual or collective welfare, or

   social acceptability.

Though human behaviour can not be so easily grouped and labelled into definite,
prescribed categories, Ginott (1965:78) tried to simplify this and called the above outline
the three zones of exposure to levels of discipline, which can respectively be outlined
into three colour zones - green, yellow and red, as in traffic control signs. It might be
accepted that behaviour does have certain trends which can be observed and followed,
but it should be noted that it also involves personal choices and decisions; thus it has its
own levels of personalised, individual nature. It is because of this that learners have to be
guided, taught and be given opportunities to learn that:

   their behaviour has consequences;

   they choose the way in which they behave, and the reasons why; and,

   they have to be responsible and accountable for the outcomes or consequences of
   their chosen behaviour, without entertainment of excuses or apologies.

The link between behaviour, choice, consequences and accountability is even more
dynamic because human beings cannot not choose. There is no room for neutrality in
relation to human behaviour and its resulting outcomes. The right or privilege not to
choose is not part of human nature. Even not choosing is a choice, and not making a

decision, because one has refused, failed or just taken something for granted, is a
decision. Performing any of these actions has no room for neutrality, and these have
results and consequences.

McGraw (1999:56-72, 80) calls this realisation “the life law”, in and through which all
human beings creates their own experience.         He elaborates further that there were
universal implications of this universal law, which he maintains has always been there
and will always be there, no matter who says or does what. McGraw (1999: 68) puts the
practical effects of this thus:

        The realisation that you cannot not choose means that, each and every day, with
        each and every behavior and thought, you are going to make choices that will
        create your minute-to-minute and day-to-day experience. Do so with a conscious
        awareness of the influence that your thoughts and behavior have on your
        experience, both internally and externally.

The bottom line of this point is that human beings are not just unfortunate victims fated
to suffer the decisions or choices of others. Both educators and learners are and should
be accountable for the type of lives they lead at their schools, and also how they act, feel
and react to disciplinary situations. To help them grow and mature to be accountable for
their thoughts, behaviour and choices, learners need disciplinary limits which should
ultimately teach them to become people who can be trusted to stand on their own without
needing to be supervised. They need to know where, why, how, when, by whom or for
whom limits are invoked.

Dobson (1992:58-59) has consistently argued that children feel secure within established
boundaries, and Jackson (1991:7) illustrates that to deny children boundaries is to deny
them a necessary “educator” of life. Dobson (1992: 59) continues to saying:

        A child who is not disciplined is an insecure child, whereas a secure child is one

       who knows his or her boundaries. Within these boundaries, the child has freedom
       to explore from a secure base and, once a level of self-discipline has been
       reached, he or she will be able to cross those boundaries in a mature and
       responsible manner.

Limits and boundaries should never just be set or expected to be kept for their own sake.
Setting and keeping restrictions should be focussed and directed by an educational
purpose and intention. The need for such an activity should be to guide learners to learn
to choose, set, shape or direct, on their own, focussed limits which are both personally
esteemed and socially accepted and culturally appropriate.

1.2.2 Schools mirror society

Though children are products of society, and many community members directly or
indirectly influence how and who they ultimately are to become, the role and importance
of the school cannot be replaced in preparing them for today’s life. In the light of today’s
life realities, from cultural to socio-economic, schooling is crucial to prepare learners for
present and future challenges and demands.

The need for effective discipline and exposure to and demonstration of discipline at
schools, therefore, is dictated by the very nature and need of a school as an educational
institution. The school should not only stand for the value and need of freedom for
learners; it should also stand for the demands of the responsibilities to sustain and
participate in freedom.

According to Dobson (1992:136) children should, in all walks of life, be guided towards
responsible, acceptable behaviour, even though that might reduce their freedom:

       Our schools, therefore, must have enough structure and discipline to require
       certain behaviour from their learners.        This is advantageous not only for
       academic reasons but because one of the purposes of education is to prepare the

         young for later life. To survive as an adult in this society, one needs to know how
         to work, how to get there on time, how to get along with others, how to stay with a
         task until completed and, yes, how to submit to authority. In short, it takes a good
         measure of self-discipline and control to cope with the demands of modern living.

The school can be regarded as a socio-cultural institution, and a dynamic one for that
matter, in and through which every community aims to name, shape and direct its own
destiny. Through this institution community members play different roles, as educators
and learners, at various levels, to seek meaning, purpose and direction to their existence
and interaction with experience and reality.        This necessitates and creates among
educators and learners a relationship of authentic dialogue, which should not only seek an
understanding and interpretation of human beings and the world, but also of human
beings in their world (Freire, 1985:43-63). According to Duminy, Dreyer and Steyn
(1990: 46) such a relationship of authentic dialogue at school also dictates and facilitates
the transmission of socio-cultural norms and values and the preservation of future
directed communal and cultural customs and practices that are aimed at meeting societal

It should stand to reason therefore that in such an institutionalised setting, of socially
interactive dialogue, discipline is essential to all involved and cannot be compromised.
The nature of the discipline needed here, however, should grant all involved the
opportunity to learn from its intentions, justifications, method and process of execution
(Mwamwenda, 1995:311). Some action-implied names have been used to represent the
type of discipline this research is searching for. The ones that can never be overlooked
are:     reality discipline (Leeman, 1995:20) creative discipline (Curwin & Mendler,
1988:148) and assertive discipline (Lee & Marlene Canter, in Savage, 1991:135-137;
Dobson, 1992). From this it should follow that the nature and purpose of the school
place the educator and learner in a position wherein they both need each other to perform
their roles expected by society. Both need one another to learn from each other, to learn
together and to become their “complete selves” in individual and relative terms.

The key participants who are essential to ensuring that the school serves its intended
purpose and maintains its social nature are parents, educators and learners. All these
participants should play active roles for the schools to deal with their complex discipline
problems. It is unfortunate though, that the particular roles that should be played by
these various parties are not always well outlined or clearly documented, and this has
contributed negatively to the creation and sustenance of a culture or environment of

According to Savage (1991:6) many learners continue to be a negative, destructive force
at schools because they don’t see schools as that important for their present or future
lives. These learners do not seem to attach any positive value to the need, purpose,
organization and sustenance of their educational institutions.

Savage (1991: 6) observes:

       Many learners do not find the school environment attractive. Rather, they view
       schools as largely irrelevant places where individual needs are not met (Glasser,
       1986). The learners are developing neither a positive self-concept nor a success
       identity.   In fact, schools are actually failure oriented rather than success
       oriented, and those learners who have trouble succeeding, face the daily
       humiliation of failure.

Many members of society put the blame for discipline problems squarely on the
educators. It is perceived that educators can resolve this issue of discipline problems
once-and-for-all if they can just become “tougher” with the learners. The researcher
observed that the impression that many parents and other community members had was
that learners are respected too much by educators and Departmental officials, and that
they are enjoying “undeserved freedom” at their schools.

Curwin and Mendler (1988:4-5) draw attention to the fact that the problems of discipline
of learners are not entirely those of educators and/or the school. The school mirrors

society, thus the problems which occur in society do eventually manifest themselves in
the educational institutions. These authors illustrated the point that schools and society
have direct influence on each other. No one structure can continue to operate as though
the other one does not exist. Curwin and Mendler (1988: 5) sum up the observation that
factors within or outside the schooling environment are equally important:

       Schools do not exist as isolated institutions untouched by the social events
       surrounding them. Schools are both a mirror image of what transpires in their
       communities and a force that attempts to convey and shape the values, beliefs,
       and attitudes of learners. Being both a mirror image and a dynamic force makes
       it essential that we understand how factors that occur both within and outside the
       boundaries of schools interact to create discipline problems. Once the context is
       understood, educators can learn how to act upon those factors that are within
       their control and how to live with those that are not..

As both social establishments and socializing agents, schools do not exist for themselves.
This dictates that the interaction between educators and learners should not only be
reactive to socially forces but be proactive to social reality.

1.2.3 Can learners get the guidance they need from educators?

Considerations about evidence of having learned to think about the implications and
outcomes of whatever one says and does, have to take into account the role and
contribution of other people in learners’ lives, in the process of learning to become
matured and trusted for being “straight thinking” and “level headed”. An interesting
element about human nature is that, though behavioural decisions are personal in nature,
no human being develops into a responsible adult all by himself/herself, in a “culture-
free” existence. All human beings need a “coach” (Lamprecht, 1989:13) to lead them in
the socio-cultural journey of and towards adulthood. It is in and through that “coaching”
exercise that both the coach and the learner should become open to learn more about
themselves, about each other and their cultural network that seems to make them need

each other. Thus, the principle that the educator is essential in the moulding, becoming,
developing and unlocking (Duminy, Dreyer & Steyn, 1990:7-8) of the learner shows the
importance of orderly social interaction in education, and in life. This shows not only the
dynamics of the educator-learner relationship but also the importance of discipline
leading to the lessons which the learners learn about themselves, the educators, society,
reality and life in general.    On the other hand, the educators should also get the
opportunity to come to terms with themselves, their learners and the demands of their
social reality in particular (Tshabalala-Mogadime, 1988:25-29).

The critical challenge of this coaching exercise to which every learner is subjected at
different levels is that it should lead to self-coaching.    The approach of discipline
exercised with learners should have, as its main objective, the goal “to help learners
develop self-control so that they may have satisfying and productive lives” (Savage,

In so many ways, the nature and levels of interactions between many educators and
learners seem to focus on dominating, controlling, fearing, challenging and punishing one
another. Some educators doubt that the learners will ever be ready to run their own lives
responsibly, on their own, without supervision. Naturally, the behaviour and attitude of
some learners also do confirm that they still cannot stand on their own. Others though,
seem to exaggerate their failure, unwillingness or lack of interest in maturing to stand on
their own, precisely for the attention and results which they achieve through such

To educators dealing with adolescents, teaching seems to be a service that is both
exciting and frustrating at the same time. It is exciting because working with young
people keeps the educators young (Jackson, 1991:1-2), and they have the rare and unique
opportunity of moulding, shaping and influencing those young people in very substantial
ways. On the other hand, the work of educators is frustrating because “discipline is an
essential aspect of learning, and this is not a popular concepts nowadays” (Jackson,
1991:1).     According to Lewis (1991:3) the educators are under stress because of their

failure to develop, nurture and sustain productive and fulfilling relationships with their
learners. This does not only amount to multi-phased disciplinary problems, it leads to
high numbers of resignations of educators from the teaching profession.             It seems,
however, to be self-evident and generally accepted that no meaningful teaching and
learning can occur productively without discipline. Even in the township schools when
one asks both educators and learners if they believe that discipline is necessary at school,
the answer is an unqualified “yes”. But when one asks how people should go about
developing and practising the exercise of discipline and what lessons the educators
expect the learners to learn from the ways in which the disciplinary exercises are applied,
then the answers appear to be non-directive and/or evasive.

1.2.4   Reference to unproductive theories and application of ineffective discipline
        approaches and strategies

The issue on focus for this research work can be outlined under the following: Failure to differentiate between discipline and retribution.

That discipline has come to be regarded as the same as punishment appears to have
created a “war-zone”, a “power struggle” (Van Niekerk, 1990:185) between the
educators and learners.      This seems to have resulted in a situation wherein the
relationship of trust, respect and confidence is impossible; and the possibility of
experiencing these as an individual or of sharing them collectively is out of the question.
Consequently, when there is no fulfilling dialogue or meaningful control of a satisfying
relationship, that facilitates and sustains a situation where either (Jackson, 1991:3):

   The educator is angry and the learners are intimidated and thus reduced to tears; or

   The learners are angry and intimidate the educator, thus reducing the educator to

                                              9 Ineffective styles and models of discipline dealing exclusively with the past and
       not directed to the future and thus not developing self-discipline

The disciplinary frustrations that both educators and learners suffer in and outside the
classroom environment seem to demonstrate that the applied styles and models of
discipline at the schools, if any, do not allow the educators and learners to learn from
their actions and those of the others. In such occasions disciplinary actions are taken “to
get even with or repay the child for what he has done wrong” instead of “to correct
present behaviour for the benefit of the children’s future” (Van Niekerk, 1990:181).
Mendler and Curwin (Savage, 1991:3) have identified a pattern that is illustrated through
a cycle involving learners’ misbehaviour, educators ineffective reactions and burnout. In
this, when learners misbehave, the educator makes an ineffective reaction, (instead of an
informed and principle guided response), and the result is little or no improvement in the
behaviour. The educator will then experience tension and frustration and may either give
up or demonstrate anger and hostility. This pattern of reaction will lead to an increase in
learner misbehaviour and, ultimately, to burnout. According to Lewis (1991:25-32) in
reaction to learners misbehaviour, educators either give in too easily, through weaker-
than-desired reactions, or they are too tough, through stronger-than-desired reactions.
Some educators move from being too tough to being too soft and back again in a cycle of
undesired reactions to their learners’ misbehaviour. When such ineffectual approaches
are followed, everybody’s esteem, will and spirit get frustrated and broken.
Consequently there is a failure to realise and accept that: “There is a vast difference
between determined, wilful, disobedience and a mistake, accident or failure” (Van
Niekerk, 1990:183). Focus on the act of misbehaviour rather than on the intended objective behind
       the act.

When educators concentrate on the ways and patterns in and through which learners
show their misbehaviour, not much can be changed or improved. The educators fail to
understand that “all behaviour has a purpose” (Leeman, 1995:14), or, among other

things, “a social goal” (Van Niekerk, 1990:4; Dinkmeyer, McKay & Dinkmeyer,

Viewing misbehaviour in this way, educators are then likely to take the acts of learners’
misbehaviour personally, as acts of attack on them; in turn they will respond just as the
learners expect them to do, and thus, though unaware, contribute towards the learners
achieving their negative goals (Major, 1990:73-75).

Educators and learners seem to be missing the perception that discipline has to be
accompanied by a demonstration of mutual respect and understanding between all
involved, and a provision of choices that can be responsibly made and executed.


Since the dawn of the democratic rule in South Africa in 1994 and the subsequent
replacement of regulations on the use of corporal punishment at school, reactions and
responses to the dictum “spare the rod and spoil the child” have varied and are
conflicting. The South African government and some parents, in principle, hold this
dictum as unacceptable in the democratic society. Yet, in practice, most educators feel
left out and unfairly treated because they are still expected to maintain high academic
standards and be productive while they are “weak” in dealing with and controlling
adolescents. Some educators feel they have been “disarmed” by being denied the usage
of the stick or the cane as the disciplinary measure. These educators find themselves in a
dilemma. They are afraid that if they insist on discipline in and outside the classroom
they are accused of child abuse; but if they do not, they are accused of unprofessional
neglect and promotion of lawlessness. The argument here is that lawlessness is not
conducive for productive teaching and learning, or for creating a safe and orderly place
for learners to receive meaningful learning (Squelch & Bray, 1995:92-94; Jackson,

As informed by the above background and logical bases, driving around Kabokweni and
Kanyamazane township schools, in Mpumalanga, between 07h30 and 12h00 during
schooling days one observed some striking ways of “keeping order and maintaining
discipline”, as some educators refer to it. Educators shout, yell, threaten, and call names
at learners with the hope of getting some order. In the schools with a fence and a gate,
the gate is locked and controlled by an educator, the principal or an appointed old man
from the community. There is always movement up and down, and some learners don’t
seem to be bothered about being locked out, as they seem to prefer to be away from the
schools. As a common, usual discipline practice, an educator or the principal walks up
and down with a cane, a belt, “sjambok” or a stick, swinging it backward and forward.
When asked whether these items are ever used on the learners, some principals and heads
of departments summed it up as follows:

       We just carry these to scare the learners. The department prohibits us from
       beating these children and teach them manners. Sometimes when we go nearer to
       them, some run to classes, some run to other directions, while some boys just look
       at you. It surely makes us feel weak, stupid and helpless.

Another deputy principal added his frustrations thus:

       What can we do? Are these the fruits of democracy. The learners know that they
       have rights and they can take you to court if you violate those rights. Yet at the
       end of the year we are expected to produce good results, and if we don’t,
       everybody blames us and calls us all sorts of names. This is really a problem.

Some parents said that they “sympathised” with the very “unfortunate” position in which
these “poor educators” found themselves. Others just laughed all these away, as “the
result of educators’ failure to teach the learners the necessary good manners”. Learners,

on the other hand, did seem to behave anyhow as they wished. It seemed unthinkable for
them to follow instructions promptly. It is unusual not to find learners moving around
the school premises during classes. During breaks some learners leave and don’t return,
sometimes as early as 10h00.      Alcohol abuse and the related incidents of fighting,
gunshots, rape cases, knife wielding and cigarette smoking, with dagga being sold and
abused within the school premises. Dagga abuse was popular among young girls. All
these are no uncommon incidents. They dress and talk the way they want. Tests, class
work or home work are ignored or openly rebelled against or just roughly scribbled “for
order’s sake, to avoid being barked on by those nagging educators”. There is open,
conscious defiance to the educators’ authority “thus creating a state of tension and
hostility” (Mwamwenda, 1995:311). Parents seem to have lost both confidence and
interest in their township schools. Those who can afford it financially take their children
to private schools in the towns where there is, as they say: “discipline and children
respect”. Some people seem to have just given up on anything related to schooling,
whether temporarily or permanently so, is a question that seemingly no one is able to

Having noted all the above factors, the question is: can’t there be “discipline that makes
sense” (Dinkmeyer, McKay & Dinkmeyer 1997:103), an effective discipline “without
anger or tears” (Jackson, 1991:7), which is intended to promote the ability and concern
on responsibility and accountability? Can’t discipline be an exercise through which both
the educator and the learner can learn about responsibility, accountability, self-
motivation, self-control and self-direction, while sustaining a bond of love and boosting
each other’s self-esteem, without “a power struggle” (Van Niekerk, 1990:185)?


Having noted the above factors, the following questions deserve to be stated here:

   What are adolescents’ and educators’ views and experiences on the ways, in which
   and reasons for which, discipline is being exercised at the schools?

   How can discipline become an exercise in and through which both the educator and
   the learner can learn about the importance of motives behind the choice and
   consequence of human behaviour and the dynamics of socio-cultural responsibility?
   Can’t this be done “without anger or tears” (Jackson, 1991:7), while building a
   fulfilling educator-learner relationship and boosting each other’s self-esteem, without
   “a power struggle” (Van Niekerk, 1990:185)?

   How can educators be equipped with the necessary, relevant theory and informed
   exposure to practice needed, to develop and apply constructive psycho-educational
   approaches and responses intended to facilitate self-discipline in their learners?

   Are educators equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to be able
   to guide learners towards learning to behave responsibly and accountably?


Adolescent learners and educators at secondary schools are the operational subject of
concern in this study, because these are the most active participants at the school as it has
to perform its teaching-learning roles. The primary purpose of the study is to equip
educators with the theory, knowledge and skills needed to be able to manage and be in
control of their disciplinary experiences as they interact with learners. The study intends
to challenge educators to review and refocus their ways, motives and expected outcomes
as they demonstrate and exercise discipline, while guiding the learners towards learning
and practising to be responsible and accountable on their own without needing, expecting
or demanding to be checked on, supervised or monitored. In order to achieve this
purpose, the study’s aim can be outlined as:

   Exploration and description of adolescents’ and educators’ views and experiences
   regarding the exercise of discipline in secondary schools.

   Empowering educators to want to become credible and worthy facilitators with
   authority and ability to guide learners to learn self-discipline

   Development and description of a psycho-educational model on facilitation of
   discipline, with informed guidelines and directed principles to unfold the model into
   action. This is intended to enable educators to prevent discipline problems, and,
   when they do occur, as they will, educators should be able to develop a range of
   effective responses so that they choose the most appropriate for a given situation.


The following can be isolated as the envisaged contributions of this study:

   The primary envisaged contribution of this study is to describe a model for educators
   for the facilitation of discipline to adolescent learners in secondary schools, and also
   to develop guidelines for the model’s operationalisation.          This is intended to
   empower and equip educators to assist, challenge, guide, lead and motivate learners
   to choose and make accountable and responsible decisions about their words and
   conduct and the consequences thereof.

   Acknowledging that educators are to be the agents of facilitation of discipline, the
   study intends to raise awareness and challenge acceptance of the demonstration of
   self-control, self-direction and self-awareness as evidence of self-discipline. To
   achieve this, the study intents to challenge educators to realistically yet critically
   assess their theories, practice, approaches and attitudes to the exercise of discipline,
   and evaluate how effective these have been.

   Accepting that the need of, quest for and demonstration of discipline is an educational
   part of human development and that human behaviour is a choice and has undeniable
   consequences, the study aims to outline the possible lessons which adolescents and

   their educators learn from the reasons for which and methods in and through which
   discipline is exercised.

   The study intends to equip educators to develop relevant, contextual and effective
   models and processes to facilitate discipline, which will not personalise learners’
   misbehaviour, but allow learners to learn from their actions and be prepared for the
   future. This is directed at boosting and affirming the esteem of both educators and
   learners involved in the teaching-learning interactions.


1.7.1 Introduction

Researchers always function within the context of a specific paradigm. Husën (1997:16-
17) aptly argues that a paradigm determines the criteria and involved considerations
according to and on which grounds a researcher identifies, selects and defines problems
and areas of concern for inquiry. Such an understanding dictates how these selected
problems are to be approached both theoretically and methodologically. This is qualified
by the fact that research work is always purpose driven, and what the researcher
investigates cannot be conceptualised without acknowledging the goal-directedness of
his/her thinking. Studying is, above all, directed. Thinking about experience is the best
way to think accurately. Such an understanding gives researchers the responsibility of
being an integral part of those who ask questions, those who try to find answers, and
those who keep on searching (Freire, 1985:2).

The following can be isolated as the concise philosophical theory driving, guarding and
guiding the study:

   Without compromising its personal nature, human behaviour is both internally and
   externally motivated (McGraw, 1999:80), and it is influenced by the personal,
   physical, socio-cultural and psycho-educational dynamics of the given situation.

   The school mirrors society (Curwin & Mendler, 1988:4-5). On the one hand, the
   problems that occur in society do eventually manifest themselves in the educational
   institutions, while, on the other hand, the school is an important tool of shaping,
   naming and directing society.

   All learners should be accepted as unique yet socially responsible human beings,
   whose behaviour should be recognised as meaningful and purposeful.

   Educational institutions should create an atmosphere in which mutual confidence,
   acceptance, understanding and respect result in a helping and nurturing relationship
   which boosts self-esteem and develops self-discipline.

In the following paragraphs the paradigmatic perspective of this study are presented,
outlining it within the meta-theoretical, theoretical and methodological assumptions.
These will provide the framework within which this research will derive its credibility.
1.7.2 Meta-theoretical assumptions

Meta-theoretical assumptions are grounded in and through philosophy, are not testable,
and deal with human beings and their society (Botes, 1993:11-12). The researcher
holds a dialectic of a humanistic and sociological point of view about human beings with
regard to their existence and position in and with their world. Human beings have the
freedom and ability to choose and implement their choices, and thus they should be
exclusively responsible for their actions (Covey, 1989:70-78). Freire (1985:68) concurs
that, as conscious beings, human beings are not only in the world but also with the world,
together with other human beings.         Hence the researcher shares the view with
Dinkmeyer, McKay and Dinkmeyer (1997:111) that the goal of discipline is to teach
children and offer them the guided opportunity to learn to become disciplined and not
want to be always supervised or monitored. Logically, all that the adolescent should
need and expect from the accompanying adult-educator is informed assistance (Van

Niekerk, 1982:2) which should guide the adolescent towards becoming a socially
responsible adult.

It is within this context that it can be stated that:

    The learner is a child who is engaged in a dynamic, on-going dialogue in and with the
    world surrounding him/her.        He/she actively reaches out to him/herself because
    he/she wishes to give meaning to it in order to discover its meaningfulness. He/she is
    engaged in this basically because he/she wishes to be somebody in his/her own right
    and eventually become an adult him/herself          (Van Niekerk, 1982:2-7).   At the
    matured, conscious level however, Freire (1985:43-44) states that this orientation of
    the adolescent in the world does not mean a passive adaptation to the world; it means
    an active quest for humanising the world by transforming it.

    The educator is a person with knowledge, who converses with the learner in a
    meaningful way, guiding and supporting him/her on his/her way to adulthood (Van
    Niekerk, 1982:2-7). The educator’s role is to propose problems, in dialogue with the
    learners’ experience of reality, about the codified existential situation in order to
    accompany the learners to reach a more profound and critical view of their realities
    (Freire, 1985:55).

    Education is the purposeful, deliberate and acceptable influencing by an educator on
    educands, intended to bring forth and improve desirable qualities and attitudes. This
    assistance which is given to the educands on their way towards becoming adults,
    acceptably and intentionally influence them to realise optimally their total human
    capability (Duminy, Dreyer & Steyn, 1990:4-5; Van Niekerk, 1982:2).

1.7.3 Theoretical assumptions

Theoretical assumptions are testable and offer focussed pronouncements about the
research field, and form part of the existing and accepted theory of a discipline (Botes,

1993:12). The theoretical assumptions that are the groundings of this study require that
Adolescent Psycho-Educational Guidance should be committed and interested in the
well-being of the adolescent as a whole, as a human being in totality. The learner should
be guided to learn to behave in ways consistent with self-chosen beliefs and goals which
are socially acceptable and culturally appropriate (Savage: 1988:7). This wholeness
should cover the different all-inclusive facets of the child’s development: physical,
cognitive, personal, social and emotional (Naude & Bodibe, 1990:15).

Naude and Bodibe (1990:11) observe that the (guidance) educator could play an
important role in creating and maintaining an environment of sound discipline; but this
should not only be possible because each and every educator must establish credibility
with learners, other educators, parents and outside community constituents. This should
be supported by the fact that these educators should in particular, have a mission of
commitment to:

   accept all learners as unique yet socially accountable human beings,
   recognize every learner’s behaviour as being meaningful, and

   create an atmosphere in which mutual confidence, understanding, and respect result
   in a helping relationship.

1.7.4 Methodological assumptions

Methodology focuses on how knowledge about the world is gained (Denzin & Lincoln,
1994:99). This operates as the instrument of dialogue between experience, knowledge
and reality. Complimentarily, the methodological assumptions of the researcher guide
the research with regard to choice of method and design. These assumptions inform the
researcher’s view of the nature and structure of science and research in his/her discipline
(Botes, 1993:12), which for this study would be Adolescent Psycho-Educational

According to De Vos (1998: 104-105), the researcher must “state the logical connections
between the research purpose, the research topic and the methods selected as
appropriate”. Since this study’s focus is on the disciplinary experiences and views of
adolescents and educators, and the lessons involved in their particular context, the
qualitative research method is thus chosen on account of its holistic approach (Keeves &
Sowden, 1997:4).     The researcher preferred the qualitative approach because of its
functional focus on dialectic interpretation, exploration and understanding of reality,
knowledge and experience. This research approach is expected to sustain a consistent
trend of justified logical thinking which is based on reliable and supported evidence.
Contradictions and thinking gaps are to be checked on throughout the research, to allow
its point of focus and contribution to develop from one level to another.

A perspective on methodological focus will still receive further attention in this study.

1.7.5 Clarification of concepts

Some of the main concepts used in this study are clarified in this section: An adolescent

This refers to children from the age of about 12 to about 21 years. The adolescent is
neither a child nor an adult, because they fall between the period of childhood and
adulthood. (Mwamwenda, 1995:63). Some scholars even go to the extent of holding that
the adolescent is within a period of “storm and stress” accompanied by conflict, anxiety
and tension (Morris, 1988: 408). These children are at a period characterised by a search
for and consolidation of identity, which is necessitated by great physical, social,
emotional, physiological and psychological change (Mwamwenda, 1995:63). Discipline

This is obedience to authority, and is indicative of orderly behaviour. It suggests a
willing and conscious integration with a desired pattern of expected behaviour.
Discipline and punishment are not synonymous and must be distinguished from each
other (Van Niekerk, 1990:172). The preferred emphasis for this study is that discipline is
a way to guide a learner or someone else to learn to acknowledge, respect and keep
boundaries, make choices, executes his/her alternatives and learn from his/her mistakes.
The goal of discipline here is to guide and develop children towards self-discipline
(Dinkmeyer, Mckay & Dinkmeyer, 1997:103). Self-discipline and self-control

The terms self-discipline and self-control share the same target of interest in that they
both focus on the self-regulation and internal motivation behind human behaviour. Self-
discipline is “ability to control yourself and make yourself work hard or behave in a
particular way without needing anyone else to tell you what to do” ( Sinclair et al., 1987:
1312). Savage (1991:7) highlighted the close relationship between these concepts when
he emphasised that self-control is “not merely submissive acceptance of authority or
standards of behaviour imposed on an individual by others”; it is “behaving in ways
consistent with self-chosen beliefs and goals”. Township Secondary School.

In this study, “Township Secondary School” refers to the schools that accommodate
learners from grades 8 to 12 in the Mpumalanga Province’s townships of Kabokweni and
Kanyamazane. The learner population of these schools is predominantly African and the
learners are mainly from Zulu, Swazi, Tsonga and Northern Sotho cultural backgrounds.
English is officially the only medium of instruction. School guidance

In this study, “school guidance” refers to a comprehensive service of psychological and
school guidance intervention that includes educational, personal, social and vocational
guidance. According to Mkhatshwa (1996:1) “guidance” is “the orientation of young
people to realise and develop their educational and vocational potentialities”.         He
maintains that guidance could be equated to the “sign posts” that are used to give
directions to road users.


1.8.1 Research design

This research will be conducted from an encompassing qualitative paradigm.             The
operational understanding of a paradigm is that it is a grounded “set of beliefs that guide
action” (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994:99). The main objective of this study can be achieved
through gaining knowledge, understanding and guided awareness of what the adolescents
and educators feel, experience, behave and learn from their interaction with disciplinary
realities towards facilitation of self-discipline. Thus, a theory-generative design (Chinn
& Kramer, 1991:79-104) which is qualitative, descriptive, explorative and contextual
will be deployed. As described by Schmidt (Krefting, 1991:214), the qualitative research
approach is practical for an empirical understanding of the world and reality from the
point of view of the subjects themselves. This approach takes into consideration that
human behaviour is both internally and externally motivated, and it is influenced by the
physical and socio-cultural dynamics of their situations.

As dictated by the main issue of concern and objective of this study the qualitative
research method has been chosen because:

       It is theme oriented and not person oriented.
       It is centred on the interviewee’s life-world and aims at seeking understanding
       and meaning of phenomena in his life-world.
       It is both descriptive and specific and focuses on certain aspects.

       It gives the opportunity to step into the mind of other people, to see and
       experience the world as they do themselves.
       It provides in-depth and direct observation.
       It attempts to enter unfamiliar settings without generalising from own experiences
       to the new setting, and integrates the knowledge of both the researcher and the
       participants (Kvale, 1983:174; McCracken, 1988:9; Patton, 1990:10; 1993:1;
       Morse, 1994:4 & Tesch, 1990:138).

Janesick (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994:200) views the research design as a work of art, an
event, a process moulding and fashioning experience. According to Merriam (1991:6),
the design is not only functional and operational; it also stands between the nature of the
problem to be investigated and the type of outcomes expected:

       A research design is similar to an architectural blueprint. It is a plan for
       assembling, organizing and integrating information (data) and its results in a
       specific end product (research findings). The selection of a particular design is
       determined by how the problem is shaped, by the question it raises, and by the
       type of end product desired.

It should follow then that the design is determined by the nature of the research question,
and the design is merely the tool to find the answer to the question.

1.8.2 Research Method

As already indicated, this theory-generative research will follow an explorative,
descriptive and contextual approach; and it will be conducted in two phases (Mouton &
Marais, 1994:43). Phase One: Data collection, data analysis and literature control


The purpose of the first phase is to unfold the research method followed by this study
into action.      Through this, the research aims to explore, interpret and describe the
opinions, views and experiences of adolescent learners, parents and their educators
concerning the methods and approaches to discipline, as required by the quest for
facilitation of self-discipline in learners by educators.

    Data collection

Data will be collected by means of focus group interviews and phenomenological,
individual interviews and “naïve” statements, (which are collections of ideas and
opinions put down freely with no concern of order, sense or logic), involving educators,
parents and learners. The interviews will be recorded and transcribed verbatim; English
translations will be made available where any other language was used. Complimentary
to the interviews, additional data will be collected through observation, and be reflected
in field notes.

    Data analysis

The collected data will be analysed according to emerging themes (Creswell, 1994: 153-
154). Through this the researcher will be able to identify and analyse the explicit and
dominating points of view, categories, topics or trends of emphasis from the collected

    Literature control

A scrutiny of various, relevant books, journals, official or informal reports, both
published and unpublished, and all forms of discussion papers on methods and
approaches of discipline will be conducted. This is done with the objective of providing
the researcher with a grounded and open-minded understanding or perspective on
approach to the topic to be investigated.

    Findings from the analysed data will then be compared with the reviewed, relevant
    literature. This should enable the researcher to identify similarities, developments
    and contrasts between the research findings and the surveyed literature (Merriam,
    1991:61). Phase Two: Description and outline of a psycho-educational model for
        educators for facilitation of discipline to their adolescent learners

In this phase, the outcomes of the analysed data, in conjunction with the surveyed
literature, will be used to describe a psycho-educational approach to facilitate discipline.
This will also outline guidelines to equip and empower educators to lead, guide and
motivate their adolescent learners to learn to live their lives accountably.

This phase will unfold under four steps, which will be further discussed in Chapter Two
of this research, and these are the following:

        Step One: Concept analysis

The survey list of Dickoff, James and Wiedenbach (1968:437) will be followed for
identification, definition and classification of the selected central concepts from the
outcomes of the collected and analysed data, that will be validated through literature

        Step Two: Construction of theoretical relationships

This will involve establishing interrelations between the identified, defined and discussed
concepts, qualification of relationship statements and construction of a tentative model
for facilitation of self-discipline in learners by educators.

        Step Three: Description of the model

This will involve the discussion and outline of the context, structure and process
description of the model, as directed under its operational, particular dimensions
followed by its development.

       Step 4: Outline of guidelines to operationalize the model and evaluation of
       the model

Guidelines will be developed under the operational dimensions, with their targeted
objectives, particular strategies and proposed activities through which self-discipline can
be facilitated for learners by their educators. At the end, the model will be evaluated on
the grounds of how clear, simple, general, accessible and important it will prove itself to
be (Chinn & Kramer, 1991: 128-137; 1999:99-111).

The credibility and applicability of this approach will be evaluated by the realisation of
the impact of its envisaged contribution at this level. The value of the entire research will
be derived from the unfolding of this phase. When completed, with authentic logic and
standing justification, this will show what the intention of the study was.

1.8.3 Measures to ensure trustworthiness

The concern here is to ascertain that the outcomes claimed by this research can be trusted
as valid and credible, and whether if tested in another situation under more or less the
same circumstances, they can hold their value in a dependable way.
To ensure this, aspects of rigor, pertaining to trustworthiness of the study will be
enhanced by using Guba’s four criteria, namely: truth-value, applicability, consistency
and neutrality (Krefting, 1991:215-222):

   Truth-value refers to whether the researcher has established confidence in the
   credibility of the outcomes of the research.

   Applicability refers to the extent of transferability of the research outcomes in another

   Consistency refers to whether the findings of the researcher would be dependable if
   the study were repeated with similar subjects in a similar context.

   Neutrality refers to the degree to which research findings can be confirmed by
   another researcher.

A detailed discussion of this subject matter will be done in the next chapter, Chapter
Two, of this work.

1.8.4 Ethical measures

The researcher agrees with O’Dea (1994:164) that ethical measures apply to the entire
research itself. All research, in general, must pay attention to ethical measures. The
qualitative researcher in particular, however, has a grave responsibility with regard to
his/her participants, because he/she enters in a direct relationship with them in the
interview situation.   The trust of the participants should not be betrayed and their
confidence should not be taken for granted. This includes the fact that there shall be no
intended physical, emotional, personal or psychological harm to anyone. No material
benefit was promised to any participant, except “the experience” of being part of this
research.     Full disclosure of the nature and processes of the research was done before
any interview. Confidentiality and anonymity, as well as voluntary participation were
guaranteed. Participants were made aware of their individual and/or collective freedom
to withdraw or decline participation at any level of the research (Leedy, 1997:116; Parse,
Coyne & Smith, 1985:281). Written permission to conduct the interviews was requested
from the relevant authorities and parents, and the publication of results was also done
with consent from the participants.


The division of chapters constituting this study shall be as follows:
CHAPTER ONE            :Overview and rationale of the study
CHAPTER TWO            :Research design and method
CHAPTER THREE :Data analysis and literature control
CHAPTER FOUR           :A tentative model for facilitation of self-discipline for educators
                       in rural township secondary schools.
CHAPTER FIVE           :Description of the model for facilitation of self-discipline for
                       educators in rural township secondary schools, and an outline of
                       guidelines for the model’s operationalisation
CHAPTER SIX            :Conclusions, limitations of the study, and recommendations.


This chapter gave a brief exposition of the study’s over-view with regard to its rationale,
problem, objective and envisaged contribution.         Attention was also given to the
research’s paradigmatic perspective and research method and design.

The next chapter will focus on a detailed outline discussion of the research’s design and


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