Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – August 2013

Volume 13 Number 8


  1. Welcome
  2. Promoting Responsibility
  3. Increasing Effectiveness
  4. Improving Relationships
  5. Promoting Learning
  6. Parenting
  7. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
  8. Reviews and Testimonials




Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.–
Thomas Alva Edison


Last week I received a call from a teacher who has been using Discipline Without Stress (DWS) for two years in Jacksonville, Florida. She learned about the system from C.M. Charles’ book, “Building Classroom Discipline.”

Nancy was asked to present the system at a conference. The principal asked her because Nancy had not sent any students to the office on a discipline referral since she started using the system.

Nancy called me and asked if I could answer a few questions before she presented at the conference.

I did—and I offer the same service to you. If you plan on presenting Discipline Without Stress, feel free to contact me and I will assist you, also. We can set up a convenient time to talk or Skype. Plan on 30 minutes and having access to the Internet.

— As an aside, C.M. Charles–the author of the book from which Nancy learned of the system–had this to say about the approach: “Marshall’s system develops responsibility AND removes stress normally experienced in discipline. It is easy to teach; hence, the surge of interest in Marshall’s model.” 


We all perceive life through our “mindset” developed from our wishes, temperament, and experiences. This mindset or mental set functions all the time, consciously or nonconsciously.

A critical key to problem-solving is expanding your mindsets by cultivating an open questioning approach. Questions that engage your thoughts influence the quality of your life. By cultivating an open questioning state of mind, you broaden your universe.

It’s easy to talk about having an open mind, but frequently mindsets are constrained by our filters. Ask, “Do I have any prejudices, ego attachments, fears, or limiting mental sets that are preventing me from assessing the situation accurately?”

Feelings play a role in any problem-solving process. Intuition, hunches, and gut feelings can be our best allies, but unacknowledged feelings and repressed emotions cloud our vision. Just think of any belief you have. Because you believe it–regardless of its validity–you will tend to view it as fact. Having clarity by understanding and being aware of your feelings, beliefs, and mindsets opens the door to wisdom.

Realizing that we have mental sets and that our universe is restricted by them can be very enlightening. We have a responsibility to be aware of our own mindsets to better understand ourselves and others.


Epictetus (A.D. 55-135) wrote: “It is not the event itself that is the problem; it is the perception of that event.” This bit of information has made one of the most important impacts in my life. Here is a simple way that I have shared it.

As a former school counselor, when a student was upset by what someone else had said, I would ask, “Suppose you didn’t know what had been said about you. Would you still be upset?”

The student would respond with something like, “Of course not! How could I be upset about something if I didn’t know about it?”

I would then offer, “So it is what the person said–but you were not upset until you learned about it. You then decided to react by being disturbed.”

How we perceive something determines how we feel. This bit of information gave the student a new awareness.

Today, we may hear, “I’m insulted by what you said.” It’s not what the person actually said as much as it is how the other person interpreted the comment.

Similarly, some may think, “I’m a victim.” This may be true, but it also has to do with perception, rather than the situation alone.

The more you become aware of your own perceptions, the more effective and enjoyable will be your life.


Dale Carnegie probably summed it up best when he wrote, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

This is just another way of saying that the way to make a friend is to be one. Friends listen to friends.


As a W. Edwards Deming advocate, I recently reviewed “Total Quality Education: Profiles of Schools that Demonstrate the Power of Deming’s Management Principles” by Michael Schmoker and Richard Wilson, published by Phi Delta Kappa of Bloomington, Indiana.

Here are approaches that successful schools have in common based on Deming’s approaches:

(Note: If you have purchased something in recent years that was manufactured by a Japanese company, it was based on Demings’ principles. The highest manufacturing award given in Japan is the “Deming Award.” This is particularly important if you know that anything purchased before WWII was considered cheap and junk. It was Deming who brought quality to the workplace while simultaneously reducing costs.)

Here are some of his principles as they pertain to education and parenting:

1. Have a clear purpose that centers on accomplishment and is reiterated and reinforced.

2. Plan carefully, and then regularly measure progress. Use these measurements not to punish but to continually improve the quality of teacher and student performance.

3. Maintain high morale by creating a democratic, noncoercive atmosphere that promotes trust and commitment.

4. Make time for teams to meet regularly to discuss, share progress, and help each other improve.

5. Foster a culture where people routinely identify new problems or challenges.

6. Trust people in areas where they can most benefit.

7. Recognize strengths and expertise by implementing others’ innovations and suggestions for improvement. Pilot new methods and gather data before instituting them on a large-scale.

8. Demonstrate that much more can be done with existing resources.


Kerry Weisner shared this on the mailring:

On the weekend as we were walking through a 1950’s car show, we came upon some very creative parents. This family really opened my eyes to seeing that creativity (as opposed to a more common focus of diligently trying to structure the children’s behaviour,) is really worth thinking about.

Here’s the situation. One dog to share–but two youngsters who wanted to take that dog for a walk.

What would you do? Thinking back to the days long ago when my own three kids were 4 or 5 years old, I probably would have tried to reason with them, tried to have a calm rational discussion, perhaps describing the concept of friendly sharing, the process of taking turns, the virtues of being patient, the wonders of a timer – so many minutes for Child #1, equal number of minutes for Child #2, etc.

Who knows? These parents may have gone that route too at some earlier point… until one of them started to think outside the box.

You know what we saw that day?

One dog and two kids who wanted to walk that dog–with two leashes…so both could!


Just thought I’d share! There are so many amazing lessons all around us if we take the time to notice!

More of Kerry’s writings are at http://marvinmarshall.com/discipline-answers/


QUESTION: I seem to remember from an earlier newsletter that you had visited Germany and presented the DWS system here. I am an American working in German middle schools.

I’m not a third culture kid, but I deal with some of their issues, some of which mean consciously looking through different “culture glasses” when choosing materials and methods. Any additional thoughts will be appreciated.


Hi Jodie,

The program will be successful in any culture if the Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model is followed.

Here are three simple reasons that the approach works:

1. It is totally noncoercive. The model creates an atmosphere where people feel safe; they know that they will not be harmed.

2. Students NEVER need defend their behavior because their behavior is never referred to. Instead, something outside the person (a level) is referred to.

3. When people understand the difference between EXTERNAL motivation–Level C (to please someone, get something, or avoid pain) and INTERNAL motivation–Level D (to take initiative to do what is right and thereby reap satisfaction), they WANT to be on Level D.

In a nutshell, most teachers aim at obedience, but obedience does not create desire.


The following is from a recent  SEMINAR evaluation:

Thank you for presenting. You significantly helped make our Montessori philosophy more possible in our modern times.

Rupa Townsend, Principal
Clark Montessori Jr. and Sr. High School
Cincinnati, Ohio

The EDUCATION book: 

I had the pleasure and honor of reading your two books: Discipline Without Stress AND Parenting Without Stress.

I bought them because I found them in full harmony with the principles according to which I designed a personal growth programs for children and adults (parents and teachers).

Aisha Rafea
Cairo, Egypt

Knowing what is best and making it happen are two different concepts. Marvin Marshall describes not only what works but also how to make it happen. Elegantly simple to understand, the no-nonsense approaches in this parenting book work as well with young children as they do with teenagers and young adults.

Joy Darden Widmann
Louisburg, North Carolina