Lord Baden-Powell on Discipline

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124. Discipline is not gained by punishing a child for a bad habit, but by substituting a better occupation that will absorb his attention and gradually lead him to forget the old one.

125. A ship can be either a heaven or a hell, it depends on the fellows in her.  If they are surly, inclined to grumble, and untidy, they will be unhappy ship’s company.  If they are, like Scouts, cheerily determined to make the best of things, to give and take, and to keep their place tidy and clean, they will be a happy family and enjoy their life at sea.

126. When a Scout/Guide gets an order, he/she should obey it cheerily and readily, not in a slow hangdog sort of way.

127. A nation to be powerful and prosperous must be well disciplined, and you only get discipline in the mass by discipline in the individual.  By discipline I mean patient obedience to authority and to other dictates of duty.  This cannot be got by repressive measures, but by educating the boy first in self-discipline and in sacrificing of self and selfish pleasures for the benefit of others.  This teaching is largely effected by means of example, by putting responsibility upon him and expecting a high standard of trustworthiness from him.

128. Insist on discipline and strict obedience.  Let (the boys) run not only when you give leave for it, which is a good thing to do every now and then.

129.  Discipline should not come from fear of punishment – in such case the more disobedient boy or girl is the greater hero to his comrades.  It should come from the desire to “play the game”, the right spirit in enthusiasm being the motive power.

130. Discipline is necessary everywhere, but the thing is to learn while you are young to carry it out in small things, so that you would be able to do so when it comes to your turn to do it in a great difficulty or danger.  In order to do this you have to be able to command yourself in the first place.

131. There are two forms of discipline: one is the experience of loyalty through action, the other submission to orders through fear of punishment.

132. In order to command obedience you have yourself to understand how to obey. It is only by practicing your own self-discipline that you will se how to develop it in others.

133. Our rules are rules, not regulations.  That is to say, they are like the rules that you have for football or cricket, to make it a really fair game for everybody.  They are meant to be helpful as giving a line to go upon, and not in any sense to be red tape.  Indeed, all the discipline that there is in the Movement is that which comes from freedom, from the desire within each man to “play the game” for his side.


Baden-Powell of Gilwell, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell – Mario Sica – Nuova Fiordaliso – 2002

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