Although I use Marshall’s Discipline without Stress levels, I’m a bit put off by the “reverse A-D system,” with D being the best. It goes opposite to how we typically think of grades or levels.
I’ve finally come up with my own labels. I think they have the same meaning but in reverse order. Any comments?
Lowest Level D = Deliberate misbehavior
Level C = Can’t control self
Level B = Behaves for rewards
Highest Level A = Automatic self-control
As you implied, the key to success with this approach lies in conveying the understandings of the concepts at each level. The specific name attached to each level is not as important as the concepts that describe and give meaning to the level. I think the level names you have chosen for the lowest two levels reflect the understandings Marshall intended but I have some reservations about the two labels you have chosen for the highest two levels.
Marshall’s Level C (Conformity and Cooperation) is characterized by external motivation. Although it’s true that someone operating on this level might be doing so in hopes of receiving a reward, this would be only one example of external motivation. Level C signifies a desire to conform or cooperate because of external motivation–but that motivation might not necessarily be a reward.
For example, students might choose to cooperate with a teacher and conform to their expectations simply because they like that particular teacher or because they have an easygoing personality and don’t mind conforming to the expectations of anyone in authority. Other students might conform to the teacher and his/ her requests primarily because they fear their parents will punish them at home if they do not.
I would also suggest that the word “Autonomous” or “Autonomy” might be better words to convey the understandings of Level D in this discipline system. I think these terms sound more inspiring than “Automatic Self-Control.”
To me, the word “automatic” brings to mind robotic behavior, which would be the antithesis of Marshall’s Level D. Marshall’s highest level is the level of taking initiative. It’s the level of thinking for oneself and acting on that inner knowing. It’s the level of being genuine and true to oneself.
As well, “automatic” also suggests “quick; without thought.” Again, Marshall’s Level D is actually the opposite of this. It often takes a person a great deal of inner strength, awareness and thought to develop their own opinions and ideas and then stick to them–in spite of what others might be doing.
To me, an understanding of Level D is developed through ongoing references to the Hierarchy in many different situations. I find students of all ages are inspired to more frequently operate on a high level when they learn about Level D. Students are attracted to the idea that one can consciously choose to be internally motivated and so can choose to feel wonderful inside. Often this concept of discipline is new to them. Marshall’s Hierarchy makes it possible to easily teach students of all ages about the value of internal motivation.
If I was going to change the highest level name to something other than what Marshall suggested, I would want to choose a word that would inspire, a word such as “Autonomy.”