Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – July 2014

—Volume 14 Number 7


  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’s not only what you look at but how you see it. –Henry David Thoreau 


Following are two messages I recently received.
“The last six years that I taught I used your system in my Kindergarten class and found it to be very successful. I believe in your system. I am now retired and do some substitute teaching. The school system that I work for has adopted PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports). Next year I have been asked to do a long-term position from the start of the school year for twelve weeks. Do you have any suggestions for how I can cope with this highly extrinsic reward system while strongly believing in your system?”

Another teacher contacted me about PBIS being mandated in her school. The district has a new superintendent who used PBIS in his former district. The teacher has been using Discipline Without Stress (DWS) for 10 years with great success and asked if there was any assistance I could give her because she does not want to use PBIS. She does not believe that young people should be rewarded for doing things that are expected of them. She asked me to please include the conversation I had with her in this newsletter. 

My conversation follows:

NOTHING IN PBIS MANDATES THE TEACHER MUST BE THE ONE TO GIVE THE REINFORCEMENT REWARDS. Also, if you teach the Hierarchy of Social Development with particular emphasis on the difference between Level C (external motivation) and Level D (internal motivation), your students will soon discover that internal motivation is more satisfying and empowering than anything from the outside.

Have a class meeting and let the students know that you would like them to take a leadership role. By having your students administer the program, you will be following the school’s requirement.

Ask the students if they feel mature enough to make decisions themselves or whether they want the teacher to make all the decisions for them. I then asked the teacher what she believes the response would be. She said, “My students are mature enough to make their own decisions.

I then suggested that she explain to her students that PBIS was originally developed for special needs students who need something tangible to reinforce a behavior. Some people now think that giving rewards is so necessary that they want rewards given to all students when they behave responsibly. 

(PBIS does not acknowledge the simple fact that if a student does something that is unacceptable or irresponsible and that if this type of behavior is not addressed, then that  behavior is also reinforced.)

I suggested, since her students indicated that they are mature enough to make their own decisions, that they develop their own procedure to give the mandated rewards. The students can have the selected person(s) charge daily, weekly, or whatever they decide. The students will soon discover that PBIS is unfair because if someone does what is expected and is NOT rewarded, then that student is “punished by rewards.”

When students start giving out rewareds, do not be surprised if students feel that PBIS is unfair because some students are rewarded and others are not for the exact same action.

Ask the students if they want to continue PBIS or if they are mature enough not to need rewards for things that they should be doing anyway. Give each student a choice. Use the following: “If you believe you are not mature enough to behave responsibly and need to be given a reward, then let me know and we will continue rewarding you for acting responsibly.” (A few students may still want the rewards because any reward is an incentive if the person is interested in the prize.)

Inevitably, PBIS will fade away because the students don’t want it. No competent administrator will mandate PBIS on students who do not want to use it.

Notice that throughout the conversation you were empowering your students in a positive way, you have continually given them choices, and you have prompted them to reflect.

The teacher responded: “Thank you so much for your response. It makes sense to me. You are welcome to ue the part of my comment that you stated in the email. I am Sue Mueller in West Bend, Wisconsin.

I have written more on PBIS in my blog at http://marvinmarshall.com/ Enter “PBIS in the box to the left of “SEARCH.”

PBIS is sweeping the nation mandated by educational leaders who continue to rely on 20th century behaviorist external approaches based upon reinforcement theory, an approach neuroscientists and enlightened leaders know are not nearly so effective as internal approaches.

(See http://marvinmarshall.com/articles/tom-sawyer-vs-skinner/ to read how Tom Sawyer was a more effective psychologist than B.F. Skinner, of Harvard fame.)

Perhaps this approach is best exemplified in the leadership philosophy that former president Dwight D. Eisenhower used as Commander of NATO forces in WWII and as U.S. President: “The art of leadership is to get people to do what you want them to do because THEY WANT TO DO IT.

Parents and teachers are young people’s first leaders 


Born on a small farm in Missouri, Dale Carnegie achieved great success as a salesperson in his first job after attending a teacher’s college in Missouri. He  moved to New York City, where he tried his hand as an actor while teaching public speaking at the YMCA. After self-publishing some books on public speaking, he became an instant success with the 1936 publication of “HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE.” The book went on to become one of the best-selling books of all time, making Carnegie an international celebrity and an American icon. Two of his most famous quotes are examples of chiasmus (concepts repeated in reverse order):

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”

“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”

“SIX WAYS TO MAKE PEOPLE LIKE YOU” is a revision of his classic book and highlights six principles:
Principle 1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
Principle 2. Smile.
Principle 3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
Principle 4. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves.
Principle 5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
Principle 6. Make the other person feel important–and do it sincerely.


My education book starts with this quote from Benjamin Franklin as he addressed King George III after the passage of the Stamp Act: “You cannot force people into changing their mind.

Coercion in any form mitigates against good relationships. Minds and opinions are changed through influence by sharing  (not telling) and asking reflective questions.

In cases where there are irreconcilable differences, aim at CLARITY rather than influence. Understanding the other person’s viewpoint, rather than attempts to change it, is one of the most effective approaches to maintain good relationships when opinions and viewpoints differ.  


Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu ruled that California K – 12 school tenure laws are unconstitutional because they compromise student rights to a quality education by protecting incompetent teachers.

The tenure system is a holdover from an era when public school teachers were almost all women and could be fired for  petty and personality conflicts that had nothing to do with their teaching competence. Tenure laws were passed to protect teachers from such personal vendettas and from meddling parents trying to dictate what is taught in classrooms.

As an elementary, middle, and high school principal and district director of education, I have learned that good teachers have long been aggravated by the poor performance of others in the profession–especially incompetent, unprepared, or disengaged teachers who cannot manage their classrooms. 

However, I also know from my own experiences that some very competent teachers are still dismissed or transferred because of personality conflicts rather than for poor performance.

Although I take no position regarding tenure laws, I believe that some justifiable procedures need to be implemented that could make it easier to remove ineffective and harmful teachers–AND that are not based on standardized tests that are invalid, unreliable, and totally unjustifiable for assessing teaching effectiveness.


An Aesop Fable:

A peacock once placed a petition before Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage and queen of the gods.

The most beautiful of birds wanted also to have the voice of a nightingale. Juno refused the request.

When the peacock persisted and pointed out that he was her favorite bird, Juno replied: Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.”

A very important lesson to teach the young!


I received the following communication that I am sharing because it articulates what so many teachers think about the current stage of discipline in schools.

“I used your strategies successfully for several years. It is a wonderful system that also works at home and in our private lives. I am completely sold. I love your book. (http://marvinmarshall.com/shop/discipline-without-stress/) I learned so much from it. 

“I recently struggled to implement the discipline system in my classroom. There were so many obstacles. KIDS WERE FINE WITH IT AND UNDERSTOOD IT. I LOVED THAT PART! (Caps added) But principals and parents could or would not support it. Several times I was told by a principal not to use it and to use whatever he/she wanted. The reward and punishment mentality is so very ingrained today. I spent so much of my own money buying treats, prizes, and rewards. It wasn’t the way to go. 

“I recently retired after a thirty-eight year teaching career. Looking back, I don’t know the way to fix the current thinking. Today’s social and political climate makes your discipline approach difficult to be successfully implemented in schools. The prevailing ‘entitlement mentality’ is overwhelming. Kids aren’t being taught what they need to know or should know. They certainly aren’t being trained to be happy, successful, or independent folks. It’s so sad.

“I hope that younger teachers can continue the cause. I hope you can tunderstand what is going on in public schools today and guide teachers accordingly.”

Central California


The following is from a testimonial:

“This is an amazing system. Research has linked relationships to school improvement for quite a while now. 

 “Coercive and punitive discipline do not allow for relationships to develop (e.g., adults yelling, put downs, intimidation, bullying, and trying to MAKE someone change behavior.) Finally, a system that teaches what we must do to develop responsible, self-disciplined students! The Raise Responsibility System (RRS) works for the students! I have seen some amazing results with some very challenging students. BUT, it will only work if the teacher places a high priority on teaching the hierarchy and then practicing, practicing, practicing. Consistency will pay off! It also is important to READ and study Dr. Marshall’s book: Discipline Without Stress, Punishments, or Rewards.”

—Pam Hart, Texas Leadership Charter Academy Specialist 

The EDUCATION book: 

 “Self-directed people are resourceful. They engage in cause-effect thinking, spend energy on tasks, set challenging goals, persevere, are optimistic, feel good about themselves, and control anxiety. To achieve this human potential, the focus of education needs to shift. Both teachers and students must become internally-driven learners: self-analyzing and self-modifying. Marvin Marshall’s book provides the science, structures, and strategies that further this cause.”

—Arthur Costa, Ed.D., Professor EmeritusCalifornia State University, Sacramento
Co-Founder, Institute for Intelligent Behavior

The PARENTING book: 

“Your approach is truly inspiring! I’m using it with my 10- and 12-year old children. It’s awesome!”

—Connie Fletcher
Spokane, Washington