An Interview about Where We Are Going – Part I

This is the first part in a series of interviews about Where We Are Going with Michael F. Shaughnessy of Eastern New Mexico University

Your books and teaching model are used  quite extensively in schools nowadays. To what do you attribute this?

The Discipline Without Stress approach uses common sense. It is a total system. It is both simple and comprehensive, employing universal principles that apply to people of all ages. It promotes both responsible behavior and a desire to WANT to put forth effort to learn. Finally, it improves relationships and increases effectiveness.

I also believe that teachers are realizing more and more  that their most significant influence on young people shows outside of class times.  Successful teachers empower their students. This is one reason that I do not use external manipulators or coercive threats and punishments. These approaches are totally ineffective when no one is around to monitor behavior. Besides, an increasing number of teachers understand that rewarding young people for expected standards of conduct is not only counterproductive for promoting responsible behavior but also fraught with problems. More on external approaches is available at

Another factor may be that a number of nationally-used textbooks in teacher preparation have devoted chapters to my system and indicate the effectiveness of it. This has led to an increase in interest among new teachers who are sharing the Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model noted above. Following is a communication I received in this regard:

It was more difficult to teach my course before your book came to my attention, but now the student teachers can see that your ideas, strategies, and practices make sense and provide results. As the student teachers get their credentials and begin their teaching careers without using rewards and punishments, I am hopeful that we will have an exponential effect of also having more classrooms in which to place new student teachers so that the theory and practice are paired. The student teachers’ conviction and enthusiasm to the approach has also influenced some of our current cooperating teachers to buy your book.

Thank you for your work, and I look forward to getting your newsletter.
Joy L. Pelton
Folsom/Cordova Center Coordinator
Department of Teacher Education
California State University, Sacramento