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Self-Governed Yet Disciplined Students Do Best

“In some of the larger schools in England and the United States, certain scholars who have developed and manifested the ability to control themselves and their actions are placed on the roll of a grade called the ‘Self-governed grade.’ Those in this grade act as if they had memorized the following words of Herbert Spencer: ‘In the supremacy of self-control consists one of the perfections of the ideal man. …’

“As a help to the student, we will give a brief course of instruction for the cultivation of one desirable trait of character. … The case we have selected is that of a student who has been suffering from ‘a lack of moral courage … an inability to say “No!”, a feeling of inferiority. … You should fix firmly in your mind that you are the equal of any and every man. You come from the same source. You are an expression of the same one Life.” ~William Walker Atkinson

Self-governed Classes

In the United States, the self-governed class may be largely a thing of the past. There were, and possibly still are, self-governed schools. They are generally called Sudbury schools after the originating school of this type located near Sudbury, Massachusetts. In these schools, student meetings are held periodically in which the students themselves set the curricula. While there are good arguments on both sides of this concept, it is not this type of mass self-governing that interests us. We are concerned with it more on the level of the individual.

Self-governed Persons

While spiritual schools are rarely, if ever, followers of the Sudbury school philosophy, they do encourage a kind of self-governed student in their classes. While the school and its leaders decide what to teach, the student must decide himself what to listen to, and what to practice.

Certain groups today have come to think that certain children deemed “special” and given names like ‘Indigo Children,” “Crystal Children,” and so on, should never be disciplined or told to control their behavior. As a result of this belief, they are raising another kind of special children called spoiled brats.


When I write on this subject, I always thing of the movie Karate Kid (original version). In that film, the young student starts getting upset when the teacher has him washing and waxing cars. He thinks he should be practicing Karate.  He soon learns that he was being taught patience and self-discipline. Both of those are necessary to be a master of karate. They are even more necessary to be a spiritual master. Continue reading “Self-Governed Yet Disciplined Students Do Best”