Model Information

Judicious Discipline - Gathercoal

Underlying Assumptions

  • School is an appropriate place to prepare students for living in a democratic society.
  • Students can learn to responsibly use their personal freedoms as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • Students can learn to regulate their personal behavior so that it does not violate compelling school interests.
  • Students can help create valid rules for the classroom.
  • Consequences provide a better way to improve the classroom behavior of children than punishment.


  • It provides students a more valid sense of how violation of their rights may be addressed after they leave the school.
  • It helps children understand how the legal system works in a democratic society.
  • It helps students learn to balance their rights against compelling school interests.
  • It helps students get a truer picture of their rights and responsibilities in a democratic society.
  • It provides a format for students to become actively involved in school and community affairs, including learning the operation of the legal system


  • It takes considerable time for students to become involved in the school wide aspects of judicious discipline.
  • The application of personal rights and compelling school interests may be confusing to students when they exit the school at graduation.

Corrective Discipline

Judicious discipline is not intended to be used independently, but in connection with other cognitive strategies and approaches. Rules should first be created in broad general terms, inclusive enough to account for all possible student behaviour. Punishment is artbitrary and unrelated to the particular rule that has been broken. In constrast, consequences are designed to be commensurate with the rule. Judicious applications of rules and consequences encourages application of legal standards and sound educational principles. Class meetings are also effective. The increase student autonomy and reduce rebellion. Rulers are reconsidered at the meetings and problems and opinions can be revisited.

Preventative Discipline

Judicious discipline is designed for primarily dealing with rule infractions, yet there is a strong preventative side as well. Prevention is practiced by teaching students their rights and by helping students learn that they need to evaluate their own behavior . Because students are more involved in determining rules and their consequences, they become more responsible and self-governing. When students are able to see the implications of their behavior, they are better able to know what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. This helps avoid corrective discipline measures.

Other Important Information

The school-wide application of the Judicious Discipline model would be an added benefit to students. They would be able to see how a large scale government works and the implications of their actions in a larger community. Students could elect a student body council who would overlook the application of the school rules. Court systems could also be set up, so students could see how the three levels of court work as well. Judicious Discipline allows students to see how the real legal system works.

Personal Reviews


I am undecided on Judicious Discipline as a classroom management model. I agree that it is beneficial for students to help create rules for the classroom and I do think that consequences, rather than punishment, can improve classroom behaviour. However, I have a hard time seeing how this model could be used in an elementary setting or even a middle years setting for that matter. It is beneficial for individuals to understand what their rights are, living in a democratic society, I just don’t know if I can see it successfully implemented in the classroom. I think it would be more age appropriate at the senior year’s level.


What I liked most about this model is its focus on rights and resposibilities. Using this model, students are taught their responsibilities as a citizen, their rights, and training to live successfully in a democratic society. It's important for students to learn that they need to contribute to society. I also think that it's important for students to know their rights, and to learn that they have a voice.


Although I like the increased student awareness of rights and responsibilities, this model is not very realistic to use in a classroom. The use of class meetings is excellent, but can adapted from other models as well. This model would be something more closely followed as a whole school model.


I like that the Judicious Discipline model teaches students about their rights not only in the classroom, but also in the community as well. I am not sure, however, how effective this model would be at an early years grade level. I think it would be better used in high school classrooms. Also, it depends on your students. Some students respond well to a more self-governing atmosphere, while others take it as "the teacher's not watching my behavior, so I'll do what I want." Letting the students be involved in the making of classroom rules, though, would help them to stay on track and follow the rules.


I agree with the Judicious Discipline model by Forrest Gathercoal. I think that schools should prepare students for living in a democratic society. It is a great way for students to learn personal rights and gain responsibilty for their own personal freedoms. I agree with the assumption that students should help create valid rules for the classroom. it is important for students to be aware of the details for property loss or damage, legitimate educational purposes, health and safety, and serious disruption of educational processes in the classroom. In this model, students earned a sense of responsibilty and a special part in the classroom.