Discipline: Traditional or Progresssive


After a presentation in Bermuda, the question was asked whether I am a traditionalist or a progressive.


Interesting question! I had never been asked this before.

My guiding mission is to foster responsibility. This is the foundational characteristic of those values and practices necessary for a civil, enlightened, and democratic society. Therefore, if you desire to label me, you would call me a traditionalist. But then consider the following.

W. Edwards Deming was the American who brought quality to manufacturing while simultaneously reducing costs. The most prestigious manufacturing award given in Japan is the Deming Award. Yet, Dr. Deming used a nontraditional approach—collaboration, rather than domination.

In this regard, traditional approaches for promoting responsibility are not successful enough with far too many young people today. Society has changed, but we are still using former approaches that worked with former generations and expect them to work with the current generation.

A tongue-in-cheek example of how society has changed is illustrated by the youngster sitting in the back of the car with his knapsack packed while his mother says to her neighbor, “He’s running away from home but expects me to drive him.”

Every time I present to primary school teachers, someone comes up to me sharing the frustration about the increasing numbers of youngsters entering kindergarten with very little self-control and lower levels of social interaction skills.

Try to use coercive approaches with these young people—really any person today regardless of age—and in return you will receive reluctance, resistance, and sometimes even rebellion.

Using traditional COERCIVE approaches with today’s youth to promote responsibility and traditional values is simply not nearly so effective as using NONCOERCIVE and COLLABORATIVE approaches. Is this being progressive?

The label is your choice.