Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – July 2006

Volume 6 Number 7


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. What People Say


On June 23, I had the honor of presenting the keynote at the

International Character Education Conference in the newly

dedicated Joan Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the

University of San Diego.

I shared with the attendees some “Principles of Effective

Character Education” as I quoted from the “CHARACTER





REWARDS and punishments that direct students’ attention

away from the real reasons to behave responsibly: the

rights and needs of self and others.

I also shared a very perceptive insight that Kerry Weisner

had posted, viz.,

The only thing that I have often seen schools do with the

Virtue Project that wouldn’t fit with Discipline Without

Stress (DWS) approach is rewarding students for

displaying various virtues–in other words, using

the old “catch them being good” behaviour modification

ploy. As an example, I have noticed many schools offer

raffle tickets to students who display kindness during

“Kindness Month” or who are helpful during “Helpfulness

Month,” thereby unwittingly encouraging operation on

Level C. To me, it seems that such schools are missing

out on a wonderful opportunity to help young people

become aware of the benefits of operating on the highest

level of all–Level D–the level at which a person feels

intrinsically satisfied, simply as a natural result of

having offered genuine kindness or help to others.

As Dr. Gordon Neufeld points out, the science of

behaviour modification has just one objective–that of

changing behavior. Behaviour modification scientists are

not interested in promoting values. When we reward

students for their external behaviour (and external

behaviour is all that we CAN reward because we can never

judge someone else’s inner level of motivation with

certainty), then we lose an opportunity to pass on our

values. By rewarding kids with something THEY value

(candy, stickers, prizes, etc.), we simply reinforce

THEIR childish values, when what we had really hoped to do was teach them about

adult values that we know will last a

lifetime. What a shame!

Here is how B. David Brooks described his experience while

working with the staff at Santa Barbara High School in


We met with a considerable amount of resistance when the

principal and I started to discuss character education

with the staff. In order to overcome the reluctance, I

asked the staff to do just one thing. I told them that we

would post two words on the walls in all the classrooms

and hallways. Those words were “respect” and

“responsibility.” The teachers were told that they did

not need to do anything except be observant and make note

of any reactions the students had regarding the posting

of the signs.

I was greeted with rolling eyes and doubtful looks. The

principal and I were sure the staff thought that this

was an exercise in futility. However, they agreed to


I returned to the school three weeks later and met with

the staff. Anecdote after anecdote painted a picture of

positive reactions by students. I was told that at first,

students asked why the signs were appearing all over the

school, and then they wanted to discuss the principles.

Teachers, without being prompted, began to use the words

“respect” and “responsibility” in class discussions and

in some cases taught writing, language arts, and social

studies lessons using the concepts.

Most surprising were the examples of students beginning

to use the language of respect and responsibility in

conversations. Several teachers related that they had

heard students discussing these concept and in a few

cases reminding their peers to be more respectful or

responsible. One teacher said, “They were actually using

the words.”

(B. David Brooks and Patricia Freedman. IMPLEMENTING

CHARACTER EDUCATION, San Diego, CA: Educational Assessment

Publishing, 2002, p. 76)

To add to this discussion of promoting character education,

here is something else to consider.

Until the 1960’s, school books were replete with vocabulary

words like integrity, industry, work, diligence,

perseverance, self-reliance, self-examination, honesty,

character, and responsibility. There was a glorification of

hard work and an emphasis on education and self-discipline.

Assuming that textbooks have an influence on curriculum and

instruction and that they, therefore, have an effect on

children’s behavior and character, perhaps it is time to

re-examine the contents of our school books as well as the

vocabulary we use.

In his classic book, “1984,” George Orwell demonstrated the

power of words with the example of the term “freedom.” If

there were no such term, how would the concept be imagined,

envisioned, and communicated? When we use the word in

conversations with the young, we teach this concept of

freedom and the values the word represents.

As an aside, this is the reason that the hierarchy of the

Raise Responsibility System uses “anarchy,”

“bossing/bullying” (both unacceptable levels), and

“cooperation/conformity,” (external motivation) and

“democracy” (internal motivation) as the vocabulary.

Democracy and responsibility are inseparable and

responsibility is the foundational characteristic in any

character education approach.

Regularly using vocabulary that represents the values we

wish to teach would be so much more effective than so many

“popular” character education programs of external

approaches catching them doing something good.

I am a graduate of Hollywood High School in Hollywood,

California. I recall walking daily by the school’s marquee

and reading “ACHIEVE THE HONORABLE.” I recently drove by the

school and was truly disappointed that the motto was no

longer posted. It, too, had gone the way of missed

opportunities to foster character development. (This article

will be shared with my alma mater.).


Responsible people are happy people.

Happy people are responsible people.

Responsibility and happiness feed on each other.


I had the distinct pleasure of celebrating and speaking with

Emery Stoops, a former professor of mine at the University

of Southern California, who recently celebrated the 103rd

anniversary of his birth. Phi Delta Kappa International

recently republished his “Psychology of Success: Develop

Your Hidden Powers,” which they first published in 1983 when

Emery was a youthful 86.

Here is a checklist from the book that Dr. Stoops entitled,

“GRADE YOUR HABITS.” His page is divided into columns–the

first is the habit and the second gives the reader an

opportunity to self-grade: F, D, C, B, A.

Here are the habits:

1. Starting early

2. Enjoying your work

3. Believing in your ability

4. Scheduling time and place for work at home

5. Organizing tools, supplies, and equipment

6. Avoiding distractions

7. Stressing the positive

8. Persisting toward a goal

9. Making a strong finish

10. Controlling you temper

11. Avoiding unfair judgments

12. Speaking well of others

Although I am not suggesting you grade yourself, I do

suggest your reflecting on each of these habits to determine

whether or not you have considered them.


If you ask yourself how you know someone cares for you,


of your responses is likely to be that you know because the

person listens to you.

Ask a husband about a good wife, and he is likely to say

that he knows his wife cares for him because she listens to

what he has to say. Ask a wife about a good husband, and

she’ll respond that he listens to her.

When the parent says, “It’s about time you started listening

to me,” the youngster may be thinking, “It’s about time you

started listening to me.”

Even if we are saying something that is not really worth

listening to, we still want someone to listen to us.

Ask a person in a poor relationship why the person feels

that way, and the person will say that the other person

“doesn’t care about me.” Ask.”How do you know?” and more

often then not the response will be, “He doesn’t listen to


Caring and listening are prime sources of good

relationships. They are so intertwined that if you

experience one, you also experience the other.

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“When I learn something new–and it happens every day–I

feel a little more at home in this universe, a little more

comfortable in the nest.”–Bill Moyers


When turtles are born, they know everything they need to

know to live for 50 or so years. Since learning is one of

the joys of living, I don’t think turtles have very much


Learning brings growth, and both the process and result of

learning can be enjoyable. Watch anyone at any age who is

involved in any mental activity for any length of time and

ask the person the reason for the involvement. The response

will inevitably include the fun factor.

A characteristic of successful leaders, teachers, and

parents is that they make learning enjoyable; they make it


On the other hand, think of someone who has given up

learning because, like the turtle, the person already knows


As you think of such a person–someone who knows everything,

someone who doesn’t listen to you because that person know

better–don’t you find that the person isn’t any fun to be


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6. Discipline without


I believe in this approach. But what should I do with the

ones who prompt me to yearn for that ditch digging job I

hated as a kid?



http://marvinmarshall.com/impulsemanagement.html  You

may even want to copy and learn the dialog. Continue to

repeat the mantra, “Do you want to remain a victim?” If the

procedure established was not effective, then repeat the

conversation, “Let’s try another procedure so that you will

not continue to be a victim of your impulses.”

2–Re-read “Solving Circles” on pages 156-157 in the book.

Select that student as one of the participants and yourself

as the other.

3. Ask for help. Even Machiavelli wrote in “The Prince” that

receiving something from your subjects will gain as much

loyalty as your giving something to them. A conversation

with a student sounds like, “Lee, I have a problem and the

only one who can help me is you. Are you willing?” (Of

course, Lee is the problem. Share it.)

4–Empower the student. Put the student in charge of the

activity. It is nearly impossible to do the opposite of that

for which you are in charge.

5–Of all the reflective and self-evaluative questions

suggested in the book, use the four questions for changing

behavior (pp.19-20): (1) What do you want? (2) What are you

choosing to do? ((3) What is your plan? (4) What is your

procedure to implement the plan? Notice that self-evaluation

and reflection are built into these questions because what

the youngster is doing is not getting what the youngster


6–Hold a classroom meeting (pp 128-140). “We are all in

this together and Lee is having a problem rising to Level C

or D. What do you (class) suggest we do to help Lee? (Lee

must be present, and Lee will get an understanding of how

his behavior affects others, and students will suggest ideas

that you would never have thought of yourself.} See

“Classroom Meetings” under “Sample Chapters” at


7–Spend some time tutoring the student (pp. 126-127). Even

if it is for one minute, you will notice or create some

positive comment about the student that will prompt good

feelings and lead the way to bonding.

Having the student bond with you by your positive and

empowering remarks will do more than anything else to

promote responsible behavior and a desire for the student to

do what you desire the student to do.

Notice that all of these use the three principles of

positivity, choice, and reflection described in depth in

Chapter I of the book and outlined in the teaching model at


None of the approaches uses coercion of any kind. This does

not mean that they are permissive. The message is that, one

way or another, you will help the students help themselves

to become more responsible and more pleased with themselves.

The inference, sometimes stated, is that IRRESPONSIBLE


responsibility as a teacher is to help people be successful

so they will like themselves even more than they did before

they came to your class.

Let the student know that irresponsible behavior is also an

indication of not being successful. THE POOR BEHAVIOR IS THE


will be that you want to help the student–that sharing the

student’s frustration with you will enable you to help the

student become more successful.

Persevere! You may have the potential of being the only

positive adult in the student’s life.

7. What People Say

I teach in a school in Sydney, Australia. I recently did a

course in Choice Theory and saw your book at the course.

Having read it, I decided I would try to implement your

ideas. I was also curious to find out more and discovered

your site when I did a search. Although I am still a novice,

I can say that your system does work, and for the first time

this year one of my most difficult classes has finally

settled down and there is real learning happening.



Note: “Choice Theory” is a registered trademark of the

William Glasser Institute. It is the basis for training in


MANAGEMENT. More about the institute can be fund at


(I am “Glasser certified” and speak at the institute’s

international conference each year. The concepts of

noncoercion and accepting responsibility for one’s decisions

are prime characteristics of William Glasser’s and my



Preview a presentation by the author at



See a video clip from the In-House Staff Development from

the last link at


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Mailring Support

You can post questions and receive responses about

Discipline Without Stress at


About the Book

A descriptive Table of Contents and three sections from

the book are posted at


The three online sections are:

1. Classroom Meetings

2. Collaboration for Quality Learning

3. Reducing Perfectionism

About the Author

Please see


Presentation topics are listed at