Britain’s Loss of Civil Discipline
What happened to genteel Britain?
Something has gone deeply wrong with British society. In just 40 years it has devolved from a culture based on manners, honor and respect between people to a state of teen warfare on its streets.
“Police in England and Wales received almost 4 million reports of rowdy behavior last year, as the situation on Britain’s streets spirals out of control,” the Daily Express reports (July 14). In revealing the figures, Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said, “Anti-social behavior is blighting communities up and down the country. Despite all the government’s tough talk and rhetoric, the harsh reality is that most acts of anti-social behavior go unpunished. Small wonder, then, that things have been getting worse.”
In fact, the ill-disciplined yob culture of British youth has become so bad that immigrants are returning their children back to their old ex-colonial homelands to receive the discipline that British society no longer practices.
How the wheel turns.
The British brought a civilized system of disciplined education, health services, and the rule of law within an orderly administration of government to many largely uncivilized quarters of the globe that simply lacked such discipline prior to colonization.
Then, in the middle of the last century, the British packed up and left.
In too many of their old colonies, health services immediately declined, law and order became corrupted, responsible administration of government yielded, in many cases, to dictators and tyrants. But, in most instances, one great blessing of British rule remained: its civilized system of disciplined education.
Having visited many of the nations that gained independence from former British colonial rule, I have always been amazed at the orderly conduct of schoolchildren and the extremely high level of commitment of teachers in these countries.
The first thing that stands out is the uniform. Often patterned after the school uniforms of British public schools—many featuring the tartans of Scotland—these uniforms serve as a great leveler to children. Gone is the competition to wear the latest high-flying brands of young fashion, a competition we see too often at Western schools, in particular in America. Whatever the social or economic status of the parents, the children are all dressed in standard school uniform, creating a community cohesion and definite school spirit among pupils and students. It creates a school community that demonstrates a pride in achievement for one’s school. It’s a great preparation for solid citizenship in adulthood.
But there’s another, even greater blessing that British education gave to its colonial children during the time of the empire’s greatness: discipline! The kind of imposed community discipline in the formative years of childhood and youth that, in turn, contributes to an individual self-discipline which works to create an orderly citizenry within a nation. That discipline, in more recent times, has been largely legislated out of society within Britain and its old dominions.
So it is that in this 21st century, with Britain having long trashed the virtues upon which it built the greatest empire in man’s history, that the grandchildren of many of the colonized offspring of the empire—their parents having migrated to Britain—are returning to Africa and parts beyond to receive a type of education which, though a product of British imperialism, is increasingly becoming unavailable within the mother country.
When this trend became evident a couple of years ago, the Sunday Times reported, “Scores of British schoolchildren are being sent away to take their gcses [General Certificate of Secondary Education] in Ghana, exchanging truancy and gang culture for traditional teaching and strong discipline, including the cane. … For the parents it is a chance to save their children from the thuggery that has seen 21 teenagers shot or stabbed to death in London alone this year” (Nov. 4, 2007).
The Times gave the example of the Faith Montessori boarding school in Accra, Ghana’s capital. “According to Oswald Amoo-Gottfried, the school’s founder and director, the key to the success of pupils … is the kind of discipline that has long since fallen out of fashion in Britain. ‘I believe in caning,’ he declared. ‘I tell the parents: If you don’t want your child punished, then your child doesn’t belong here. … Children must be taught. You don’t sit down and discuss directions with a child—you tell them where to go.’”
The result is hardly surprising, given the constancy of the underlying principle (Proverbs 22:6) that the school’s director espouses: “His school is quiet, the atmosphere studious. … They remain silent until asked a question” (ibid.).
I can clearly remember the identical situation prevailing in my elementary school years within a British Commonwealth country six decades ago. It was hardly like the situation that prevails within our politically correct, ill-disciplined, dumbed-down institutions of learning for the young within the First World nations of the West today.
In those days we were well-disciplined within the school system, and I am so thankful for it! Without both the community and individual discipline experienced within my own formative years at a school modeled on the old British system, I shudder to think where I, the son of a widow, largely raised without fatherly discipline in the home, would be today. In those days, the majority of our elementary and high school teachers were males. More importantly, they were very masculine males! They treated the young men as that, young men! And they treated the young women as just that, young feminine women! There was no confusion of gender in those days.
The libertine, hedonistic, gender-bending ways of society over the past 40 years have since spawned great dislocation within the family unit and confusion in general within society. The greatest lack in so many of our homes is that of a good, strong, masculine, kindly father role model—a kindly, loving, yet authoritative disciplinarian. That’s what these children of African parents have found lacking within the very country that, in colonial times, established such a system in the nations of their ethnic origin.
To its great shame, the quality of education that the British nation established within its vast Commonwealth is no longer widely available within its own home nation! And it’s not only people from the African continent who have discovered this after migrating to Britain. Citing Amoo-Gottfried, the Times reported, “He puts the troubles of the British pupils down to a lack of good role models—a reason many West Indian families cite for sending their children to school back home” (ibid.).
From Africa to the Caribbean, increasingly the children of immigrant parents who left their own countries to seek the good life in Britain are returning home to receive the education created within, but now rejected by, their British mentors. As one former student of Archbishop Porter girls’ school in Takoradi, Ghana, who subsequently graduated from university, observed, “Education is so important in Ghana—people take it as their only means of escaping poverty. With education you can do anything, no matter how poor you are” (ibid.).
The paradox is that the British peoples, having been bloated with the false wealth that easy credit brought to their domestic economies before the crash of 2008, seemingly so “rich, and increased with goods” (Revelation 3:17), remain largely ignorant of the reality that in fact they are “poor, and blind, and naked” when it comes to the virtues of the well-disciplined system of education that produced their great leaders of the past. That was the system that civilized the uncivilized, that brought discipline to the undisciplined within the nations that formed the once vast British Commonwealth and Empire. That system taught basic honesty in business dealings, civility in human relations, a sense of honor and respect for the heritage of the nation—basic virtues which have since been removed from the public education systems within the Anglo-Saxon nations of today.
So the wheel turns full circle.
Even those who fled their homelands to embrace the blessings of living in Britain now reject the simpering, politically correct ways of its current education system, a system gutted of those virtues that once made it great, as its rebellious people increasingly embrace the indiscipline of the uncivilized.