It seems like business as usual in Ben Ross's history class. But then the students notice what he's written on the blackboard: "STRENGTH THROUGH DISCIPLINE" (5.2).
Ben explains that today's class will be about "discipline" (5.4). This doesn't make them very happy, to say the least; they thought that Mr. Ross was way better than to lecture them about stuff like discipline.
But wait, it isn't what it sounds like. What he's really going to talk about is power and success. Discipline, he says, is the way to get power and success.
First, he uses football as an example. Turning to the football players in the room, he points out that in order to be successful at football, the players have to have discipline. Right? Right.
One player points out that they have had a two year losing streak. Not great.
Next, Ben uses ballet dancing as an example, turning to the ballerina in the class. She agrees that she has to be disciplined to succeed in ballet.
Okay, so now we're getting the point: Ben tells the students that any art requires discipline.
And now, he says, he can show them how to "create power through discipline" (5.15).
To his surprise, his students look interested. Awesome – good start.
Ben says it all starts with posture. He has Amy sit up very stiff and straight to show what a disciplined posture looks like.
The other students follow suit, even Robert. Ben tells the class to follow Robert's example and… they do.
Next, Ben has the class practice getting up from their chairs, lining up, then getting back to their seats. They practice until they are able to do this in a super-fast, organized way.
After this exercise, Ben is amazed at how quiet the class is. They are excited and ready for more. (Maybe it's the endorphins?)
He says there are three other rules they need to follow in order to achieve power and success through discipline.
First rule: Everybody has to have a pencil and paper and take notes.
Second rule: Stand next to your desk whenever you answer a question.
Third rule: When you answer a question, you have to say "Mr. Ross" before you answer.
The class seems to agree with the rules. Well, that was easy.
Ben starts firing questions at the students about history from the textbook readings. The students answer really quickly, following Ben's new rules.
The bell rings, but nobody moves. Eerie.
Ben gives them reading homework and finally dismisses them. The class rises together and leaves the classroom.
In the hall, Brian, Eric, Amy, and David talk about what happened. They think it was pretty amazing. Brad says it was no big thing – just a different way of doing what they always do: answering questions.
David thinks there is something more to it than that. He leaves the group and goes to the bathroom.
In the stall, he wonders if Brad is right. No, he doesn't think so. The class was so excited. If he could somehow get the football team as organized and excited as the class was today, maybe they could win a stinkin' game.
He leaves the stall, but he stops when he notices someone standing by the sink.
It's Robert. He's looking in the mirror. David watches as Robert straightens his posture and makes motions with his mouth, like he's still in Mr. Ross's class today, answering questions. Hmmm.
That night, Ben tells his wife about what happened in class. She can't believe the class stayed after the bell rang. We know, right?!
She asks if he will keep on with the experiment, but he says he isn't sure. He needs to talk to the class about the other aspect of World War II, the war with Japan.
He doesn't tell Christy, but he was just as caught up in what happened today as his students were. He really liked the way these kids were able to answer so many questions so rapidly. It was kind of amazing. We'd say so.