Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – June 2015

 Volume 15 Number 6


  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 




You can get all A’s and still flunk life. —Walker Percy

A well-known wordsmith once approached Noah Webster, the lexicographer, and said, “Mr. Webster, did you know that ‘sugar’ is the only word in the English Language in which the ‘su’ is pronounced as if it were ‘shu’?”

Webster relied, “Are you sure?”

Many school districts are starting to limit the types of consequences that teachers and administrators can impose for unruly classroom and school behaviors. This is resulting in a significant increase in discipline problems where the staff feels almost helpless. The reason is that most school administrators and teachers have not learned how to use authority without threats or punishments—without coercion.

I know this from my experiences as an elementary, middle, and high school principal and my seven (7) years as a district director of education.

Learn how to use AUTHORITY WITHOUT COERCION—an online program.

Even though my new online program “Discipline Online” is totally virtual, we are now taking checks and purchase orders.

Most school districts in the United states are closing their 2014-2015 fiscal year and will not issue purchase orders until July 1. However, if you are at a school and we receive a purchase order thereafter, you will still be able to view the 54 modules during the remainder of the summer. This will enable you to use the totally noncoercive (but not permissive) program the day students return.

Checks are now also being accepted and, when received, the program will be available immediately.

If you order by check or purchase order, mail to
Piper Press
Post Office Box 2227
Los Alamitos, CA 90720

NOTE: The email address of the person who will be given membership to the site must be included so that person can be given a temporary Username and Password.

Since the response to the program has been so great, the special introductory price is being extended.

Take advantage of this opportunity, or just find how this program can help you become more effective in any endeavor.  Learn more.

Please take a minute to inform your friends on Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites about this special offering at an extraordinary return on investment. 


A little history about John Dewey, known for his approaches that promoted responsibility:

Dewey died in 1957 at age 92 in New York City. At his death, he was one of America’s most influential philosophers and educational theorists.

He taught for three years but struggled with the expectation that he should be a knuckle-rapping disciplinarian.

After posts at the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago, he taught at Columbia University from 1904 to 1930. It was at Columbia where he became a major exponent of pragmatism and rejected authoritarian teaching methods. He espoused instructional approaches that built upon the interests of students and the challenge of solving real-life problems.

Teaching today has an emphasis on correct answers. However, in life outside of schooling, success is determined by what to do when you do not have the answer.

Dewey would certainly be opposed to current approaches of standardized testing to assess learning. Standardized tests are neither valid nor reliable in assessing educational progress. In addition, they do not emphasize character development, wisdom, or engender the desire to learn.

These tests are making testing companies and their publishers extremely wealthy—at the expense of creative teaching and students’ learning life skills.

Society is finally waking up to the misuse of this “testing experiment” as indicated by the increasing number of students who are refusing to take such tests and the increasing number of states that are dropping out of the “Common Core State Standards Initiative”—regardless of its good intentions.


Here is a sample of the power of words and how they can influence other people’s behaviors.

A blind man in Glasgow, Scotland, was sitting in a public square with a cardboard sign that read, “I’m blind. Please help.” Not many coins were tossed into his coin can.

A young woman walked by and changed the words on his cardboard sign. Soon many coins were heard being dropped into his can. The young woman had changed the man’s sign to read, “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.”


Here is my favorite response that invariably gets a smile and proves effective when I am talking and the other person starts talking to me—while I’m still talking:

“Excuse me for speaking while you’re interrupting.”


I received the following comment on one of my blogs:

“I am a 17-year-old and believe that I have good parents. I tried to encourage them to read your book, but they refused. So I brought up the fact that they should try to treat me with contingencies rather than with imposed consequences. I was then ridiculed and belittled by my dad. He said that if I were mature enough I would not have said that. He said that consequences and contingencies are the same thing.

“My father is of the old school where the way to change behavior is through coercion.

“How would you reply?”

RESPONSE: The way to influence is to have people influence themselves. The key behind consequences is not only the consequence itself; it’s about who decides. If it is IMPOSED, the imposer loses because the relationship is torn. On the other hand, if it is ELICITED, the person has ownership in the decision and relationships are not damaged.

A contingency sounds like, “You cannot leave until you finish your homework” (negative orientation) vs. “Sure you can go—as soon as you finish your homework” (positive orientation). The former puts the responsibility on the parent to check; the latter engenders hope and puts the responsibility where it belongs—on the young person.

The key procedure to influence your father is to ask questions that prompt him to reflect on his own thinking. Try this one: “If you were me, which would you want?”


QUESTION: I have a question about your Styles Assessment.

Is there any significance to location within a quadrant? For example, if I have been placed in the Thinker quadrant, but am very close to where both axes meet in the middle, does that indicate anything?

RESPONSE: The quadrants are neighborhoods. Our personalities have some of each. The purpose is to understand others’ personalities or characteristics. For example, I am in the THINKING and DOING quadrants. My wife is in the RELATING and DOING quadrants. However, our daughter is in the FEELING and RELATIONSHIP areas.

When I began to understand my daughter’s personality, I immediately began to change how I related with her. By my understanding and reflecting on her characteristics, my behavior changed. The result: our relationship has been better than ever.

Learn more. 


A discipline problem is often set off by a lack of student engagement. If the teacher is promoting something interesting, students are quite capable of being engaged. Instead of thinking, “I am going to control this behavior” mentality, a more effective approach would be to think, “What can I do that is interesting to prevent students from misbehaving in the first place?”

If punishment becomes arbitrary, any young person is going to feel angry and even disillusioned. When people in authority want others to behave responsibility, it is the leader’s responsibility to first behave in this same manner. The approach should be to avoid counterwill, the natural human tendency to resist force or coercion.

One of the prime characteristics of DWS is that HOW YOU PUNISH is as important as the act of punishing itself. And this is a prime reason that I ELICIT a punishment or a consequence–rather than impose one.

If you have read the book “Discipline Without Stress” and found it worthwhile, please add your comments to the customer reviews on Amazon. Simply search Marvin Marshall  and you will find the site for your comments.

Thank you for your efforts in improving education.


Dear Dr. Marshall,

It gives me great pleasure to hear that you’ll be writing another book! I’d be honored and proud to get to read it as you’ve described in your newsletter.

I have been a teacher for 12 years and have been implementing Discipline Without Stress for 11 of the 12 years. In my first year as an intern teacher (a credential program offered through the university), I strived to manage my class of 20 inner city kindergarten students without using punishments or rewards. I was told that many others on the staff would take me as an overly optimistic new teacher who was soon going to be demolished by 5-year-olds. After all, they were the most difficult type of students—high poverty with most children coming from broken homes.

I survived my first year without using rewards or punishment but was starving for resources that could fill in the weaknesses I had in articulating how to teach self-discipline. Thankfully, that following summer two of my professors and internship coordinators recommended your book. I was so excited to have a resource and knowledge of the levels in order to teach youngsters about taking responsibility for their behavior.

Soon after my first year, word spread that I was teaching kindergartners concepts of anarchy and democracy. Eleven years later, I now teach at the middle school level and have used this discipline system in almost every grade level. I’ve hosted hundreds of student teachers who have come to observe me teach and to see this discipline system in practice.

Unfortunately, there are still far too many classrooms in our area that use a variety of extrinsic systems, so these student teachers are always in awe of how students can behave without being manipulated or coerced. At each school that I’ve taught, once others hear about the system, I am asked to share it with colleagues. At my current middle school, our administration has chosen to have it be our school-wide discipline system.

It is always my pleasure to train and mentor our staff year after year on how to effectively teach students responsibility and self-control. The culture at our middle school is such that when students transfer from other campuses they notice a difference right away. Although we as a staff have lots of room for growth, it is clear to parents and students that we place a great emphasis on promoting self-discipline.

All that being said, I couldn’t teach what I don’t practice and strive for in my personal life. I can’t begin to recall just how many times I hear the words written in your book being repeated in my head as I handle conflict with my husband. Not to mention the countless times I walk through our school campus or my community and feel the desire to clean up a mess because that is what I would encourage my students to do. I believe the best lessons are taught when I can be transparent with my students by sharing my own struggles with self-control and self-discipline. Seeing me as the flawed human that I am, allows them to feel safe to be flawed too. And of course they know that I will give them the same grace that I hope is given to me.

I very much look forward to reading your new book. Of course you can count on me to share it with all the educators, parents, students, and friends that I meet.

Many blessings and best regards,

—Jen Rickards –  Sacramento, California

Landmark  EDUCATION book: 

Award-winning PARENTING book: