How do students benefit from operating on Level C or D?

Dr. Marshall says that we should teach students that in this system of discipline, operation on Levels A and B “automatically invites the use of authority” by the teacher. My students understand that continued operation on the lower levels will result in the use of authority. They see this as a good reason for raising the level of their behavior to something higher.

Now I’m wondering: Is there anything that “automatically” accompanies behavior on Levels C and D?

Yes! Firstly, it should be understood that operation on any one of the four levels of the Hierarchy is accompanied by logical and predictable results related to:

• self-esteem and;
• the quality of relationships that are created with authority figures and other people.

Although these results do not necessarily occur immediately and are not always obvious, over time, continued operation on any one particular level does impact an individual’s life. How highly a person can regard him/herself, and the quality of the relationships a person can have with authority figures and other people in their lives, is directly related to the level at which that individual most consistently chooses to operate.

The DWS Hierarchy is an excellent tool for helping students understand that in the long term:

• Choosing to operate on the lower levels (either consciously or non-consciously,) eventually leads to a deterioration in self-esteem, and in relationships with authority figures and peers, while conversely;

• A decision to operate more consistently at the higher end of the scale, naturally leads to improved relationships with others and an increasingly positive sense of self-esteem.

When working with the Hierarchy, one of the key teaching points to convey to students is the difference between Levels C and D. While both these higher levels are acceptable, students should understand that there are certain benefits that accompany only Level D. They are not available to someone operating on Level C.

For example, consciously choosing to operate on Level D automatically results in great feelings of self-satisfaction. Such feelings significantly improve self-esteem. This sense of self-satisfaction does not accompany Level C in the same strong way as it does Level D. (You might be interested in reading the article, What Self-Esteem Is and Is Not, by Nathanial Branden.)

People regularly operating on Level D develop a strong sense of self-esteem and personal power. Using the Hierarchy, we can teach students that when they consciously take charge of themselves (making responsible decisions and appropriate choices,) good feelings are a direct result. In fact, nothing feels better than to be in control of yourself and know that you can depend upon yourself to do the right thing, simply because it is the right thing to do!

Another result of operating on the highest level is that relationships with other people improve. At Level C, a person motivated externally to act in appropriate ways, will certainly enjoy good relationships with others.  However, those operating on Level D put themselves in the position of creating exceptional relationships. As a result of acting with integrity, genuine kindness, a sense of responsibility etc., students operating on Level D benefit greatly by gaining the respect, admiration, trust and support of peers, teachers and others.