Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – December 2013

Volume 13 Number 12


  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 




“It may surprise students to know that the best teachers are masters at selling. The best teachers know how to begin every lesson with stimulation, which leads to motivation. Teachers are the greatest salespeople in the world.” –Emery Stoops, PSYCHOLOGY OF SUCCESS, page 71.

Teachers generally demur when referring to anything about selling. Yet, as I clearly explain in my presentations, teachers market the information and skills that they want young people to hear—since learning cannot be forced.

In last month’s newsletter, I reported an incident that made national news in Canada—the fact that a private school in Calgary decided to do away with awards and honour rolls for their elementary and middle school students. Their rationale for doing so was based on the work of Alfie Kohn, whose book “Punished by Rewards” is worth reading by anyone interested in motivation.

In an interview with a Canadian radio station, Kohn explained the negative aspects of competition and proposed that we educate kids about dealing with competition and its destructiveness with regard to relationships and learning, just as we educate them about the negative effects of drugs and smoking.

Kerry  asks for the more proactive idea of actually educating kids about motivation for learning, such as internal and external motivation. She notes that the Raise Responsibility System’s hierarchy is a tool for doing this. Kerry reports that results can be life-changing as kids pick up on the amazing idea that they are in charge of their OWN motivation and they can choose either a higher or lower form of it.

Kerry continued by stating that some parents in Calgary seem to think that without awards from the teachers their children won’t be able to do well in school when in fact the opposite is true—especially if we actively educate them about the benefits of being a self-starter, Level D on the Hierarchy of Social Development.


Here are some thoughts that came to mind when Kerry shared the article with me:

Although Alfie Kohn has made a significant contribution to pedagogy, I disagree with Alfie in condemning ALL awards.

As a former instructional coordinator, I agree that awards ceremonies are counterproductive for LEARNING—when so many young people never find themselves in the winner’s circle and would therefore prefer to drop out rather than compete.

Collaboration is much more effective for learning. When people collaborate, they do not compete.

However, as a former high school athletic coordinator, I do believe in award ceremonies for athletics and other competitive activities such as spelling bees, high school band competitions, and academic decathlons THAT ARE BASED ON PERFORMANCE.

Awards are great incentives. For example, there is no way that I would have invested thousands of hours learning piobaireachd (the classical music pronounced pibroch) on the Great Highland Bagpipes if I would not have competed. The competitive spirit drove me to improve my PERFORMANCE.

In sum, rewards and awards are counterproductive for LEARNING but are appropriate when it comes to improving PERFORMANCE. Teams competing in classrooms are appropriate. But LEARNING is more effective between individuals when they collaborate—rather than compete.


A number of years ago I was asked if I would give permission for a Yahoo group to be named “Discipline Without Stress” where questions could be posted and others could respond to them on the “mailring” or “list serve.” Of course I gave my permission, although I have had nothing to do with the site. I thought it would be a good channel to assist teachers to further young people’s responsibility.

Yahoo has recently updated many of its sites including the mailring. The updated Yahoo site no longer makes it easy to read posts, makes it difficult to locate older posts, has outdated links about MarvinMarshall.com (even though I have made repeated attempts to notify the manager of the site), and has had very few posts recently. In addition, the vast majority of answers to posted questions are at a wonderful support source, “Discipline Answers.”

My aim is to have people experience satisfaction when they come to MarvinMarshall.com. I do not want visitors to be frustrated. Therefore, the Yahoo DWS site, although still active, will no longer be referenced from MarvinMarshall.com.

I am still available to answer individual questions, as the blog “Positive Discipline vs. Discipline Without Stress” indicates.


 You can motivate yourself before beginning an unpleasant task by anticipating the good feeling of success you will get when the job is completed.

Indeed, if you maintain positive thoughts, you can become more effective, stimulate long-term satisfaction, and start to feel happier.


It is interesting to see how people’s agenda directs their thinking. A case in point is the attempt in recent years to make no distinction between males and females. We have known for years that if you give a young girl a toy truck she will give it a name, and if you give a young boy a doll he will tear it apart.

But the social engineers keep on insisting that differences between these to sexes are solely the result of culture.

Science has finally proven what common sense has always known: Males and females are not only different in body but they are also different in how their brains function.

Women’s brain’s operate laterally, side to side. This could explain their interest in relationships. Neurons in men’s brains function where cognition starts—from front to back, which can explain to some extent their thinking and drive to succeed.

Understanding these differences of how the brains functions can lead to improved relationships.


I received the following communication regarding the Hierarchy of Social Development.

I’m confused. I thought that Level C was a good level, that it was comparable to Level D; the difference was in the motivation. One of your blog that I had read seems to be saying that Level C is bad because students conform to their peers.

I explained:

When I teach a procedure, I expect students to follow it (Level C). This is external motivation where most of us live our lives most of the time. However, if a young person does something that is anti-social because of a desire to fit in with a group, that motivation is also external.

This is the reason that Level C “conformity” is in yellow (slow down to reflect) while “cooperation” is in green on Level C on the posters at and cards.

LEVEL C – Cooperation/Conformity has young people become aware of and resist the strong desire to fit in WHEN A BEHAVIOR WILL BE IRRESPONSIBLE.

When young people understand that to go along with some behavior that is categorized as Level A or Level B, they are at the first step in resisting such irresponsible behaviors BECAUSE THEY CAN ARTICULATE THEIR MOTIVATION.

When young people learn the difference between internal and external motivation, their mindsets change. Understanding the difference between the two types of motivation inspires responsible behavior, effort in learning, self-discipline, and empowers young people never to become victims.


The following is from Dr. James Sutton’s recent post at his “Changing Behavior Digest.” Dr. Sutton also runs “Changing Behavior Network,” a radio blog supporting emotional and behavioral well-being in young people.

Here is his entry in the “Tips for Parents” section of the issue:

“Dr. Marvin Marshall offers two simple techniques for presenting an answer to children or teens that don’t want to listen. These tips can head off an argument, keeping the relationship calmer and closer.

“At times children, and especially adolescents, will not like what is required of them and will act as if they do not like their parents. Remarks such as, ‘You don’t understand’ or ‘I’m the only one who has to’ or ‘I’ll die if you don’t let me’ are attempts to have the parent relent and say ‘Yes’ when the parent knows it’s really best not to allow what the youth desires.

“In these situations, the parent should focus on what is best for the youngster in the long run. However, in the process, the child needs to understand the reasons for the decision.

“A simple technique to employ when a ‘No’ needs to be given is to place the challenge on the youngster by simply saying, ‘Convince me.’ The challenge encourages reflection and responsible thinking. This is especially important with teenagers who want to feel right even when they are wrong.

“Another simple but underused technique is for the parent to first reflect on the reason for the parental decision. Then the reason is shared with the child, this can be very significant. The youngster has a reason for what he or she wants, for what is desired, and so, too, should the parent have a reason.

“Just as our democratic system of government needs to be learned by each generation, so do the morals, values, and ethics upon which democracy rests. As parents, it is our job to model and teach the principles and behaviors we want our children to learn.”


These are just a few of the many suggestions in the book, “Parenting Without Stress: How to Raise Responsible Kids While Keeping a Life of Your Own.” 


On November 18 I presented to the Hillsborough County (Tampa, Florida) middle school and high school administrators who were admonished by a district administrator that the SUSPENSION NUMBER OF “MINORITY” STUDENTS MUST BE REDUCED.

As a former middle and high school assistant principal, I understand how natural it is to have a mindset of enforcement. However, once an administrator moves away from IMPOSING PUNISHMENT to ELICITING A CONSEQUENCE, the more responsible students become.

One approach is to implement the Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model–especially the third phase of Part III, of the Raise Responsibility System.

The presentation took place at Blake High School which had already adopted the following:

Blake High School Expectations

–Be Respectful and Responsible

–Listen to Each Other –

–Arrive on Time

–Keep Positive and Never Quit

–Engage in Class and be Cooperative

Notice the use of “Expectations” in contrast to the usual “Rules.” Expectations puts the responsibility on the student, where it belongs, rather than on the teacher who turns into a cop or an enforcer of rules.

Here is one of many evaluation remarks I received from an administrator who attended my presentation: “I liked the positive approach, the importance of relationships, and the concept that fair does not mean equal.”


The following is from a testimonial:

The following is from my presentation in Tampa, Florida last month: “I liked the great content. I learned much about how to implement procedures instead of rules and obedience.

The EDUCATION book: 

“The strategies that Dr. Marshall describes for developing humane, responsive, and responsible classrooms are grounded in research AND good practice. They link classroom management concerns to the more fundamental issues of how teachers can create powerful curriculum, teaching, learning, and lasting motivation. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to create a ‘right to learn’ in all classrooms.” —Linda Darling-Hammond, Ed.D., Professor of Education Stanford University and Director, National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future

The PARENTING book: 

“Your parenting book is exactly what every parent desperately needs because it does what other discipline experts have not done: It retains the authority responsible parents need while creating the respectful relationship parents want. Your sensible strategies show parents how, while your awesome anecdotes, stories, and examples offer practical suggestions. The delightful, well-written, and enjoyable style is an added bonus.” —Bill Page, Author of At-Risk Students Nashville, Tennessee