Aim for Responsibility, Not Obedience

The mindset of current educational approaches regarding student behavior focuses unfortunately on obedience, the source too often of reluctance, resistance, resentment, and even rebellion. Simply stated, OBEDIENCE DOES NOT CREATE DESIRE. However, when the focus is on promoting responsibility, obedience follows as a natural by-product.

The reason is that motivation to be responsible requires a DESIRE to do so. The motivation must be INTERNAL. Many schools use EXTERNAL motivation in the form of rewards, threats, and punishments. However, these approaches (a) foster compliance rather than commitment, (b) require an adult presence for monitoring, (c) set up students to be dependent upon external agents, and (d) do not foster long-term motivation for responsibility.

In addition, when students start collecting rewards—as in Positive Behavior Support approaches—they start competing to see who can receive the most number of rewards. Since rewards change motivation, one will never know whether people are acting responsibly to get the reward or whether their motivation is to do right because doing right is the right thing to do.

My continuing efforts are devoted to changing the educational mindset away from using external and manipulative approaches. A less stressful and more effective approach is to motivate young people so that they WANT to behave responsibly and WANT to put forth effort to learn. That’s exactly what the Discipline Without Stress methodology is all about.

1 Comment
  1. Start with a discussion to clarify.

    Being responsible is a different topic than having an interest in schooling. These may be mutually exclusive. A person can have an interest in one but not the other.

    Have the parents discuss whether they want to be a friend to the child or let the child not have a parent(s). These are mutually exclusive. Being friendly is one thing, but relinquishing authority to have the child act as its own parent is another. Discipline Without Stress teaches how to use authority while still retaining good relationships.

    Also, the parents would have a conversation with the youth explaining the Levels of Social Development: When the young person understands the difference between Level C (external motivation) and Level D (internal motivation), the chances of changing behavior is significantly increased. The reason is that the person learns that one’s behavior primarily affects the person’s own life and helps prompt more mature choices.

    I would also have a private discussion with the school’s counselor explaining the situation. Ask the counselor to have a conversation with the student and have the student tested. There may be an underlying physical condition (such as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome ) for the lack of academic progress that be a significant factor.