An Interview about Where We Are Going – Part III

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


Your book “Discipline without Stress” has been out there for several years. Any idea as to how many schools use and refer to it?

Since the book was published in 2001, 50,000 copies have been sold so far. The next 10,000 copies will be off the press within the next few weeks. I’ve heard it said that the book is perhaps the best ever published on how to discipline and promote learning.

The comments on the homepage for the book give an indication of its popularity. Here is an example I received from a high school science teacher:

“I ordered your book a few years ago. Loved it! Loaned it. And lost it. So I ordered it again. This is the best book I have read on teaching in the classroom.”–Laura Fair, Science Teacher, Kenowa Hills High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

There are a number of schools that have a book club devoted to discussions of the book. When I presented to the Canada’s Alberta Teachers’ Association, the very large room was overflowing with members of, as the association labeled it, the “Marvin Marshall Book Club.” People brought their books for me to autograph and many told me that they were embarrassed by the number of postal notes attached to so many pages. This is a common occurrence since the book is not written as a traditional education book. The entire book deals with “how to” rather than the usual, “what needs to be done.”

The book shares a number of extremely useful concepts that teachers and parents can share with young people.  Here are just two:

Perfection is a burden no human being should ever carry. Excellent work, superior work, outstanding work, yes—but never perfection! You cannot learn and be perfect at the same time.

Regardless of the situation (stress at home? troubles at home?), stimulation (“He hit me first”), or urge (“I couldn’t help myself”), you still have the choice as to your response. You may not be able to change the situation, stimulation, or urge, but when you walk into the classroom you are making a choice—to learn or not to learn.

This latter point was emphasized in my commentary in Education Week, “Rethinking Our Thinking on Discipline: Empower Rather than Overpower.” Of all the ideas in the article, the editor chose to highlight the following:

“Teaching young people about choice-response thinking—that they need not be victims—may be one of the most valuable thinking patterns we can give them.

To be more specific in answering the question, I have no idea how many people have read or used the book. However, many people have told me to advise others: “NEVER lend the book to someone else because you will never get it back.”