The Levels of Development in High Schools

I’m a teacher at a suburban Atlanta charter high school. As a member of the discipline committee for the high school, I am involved in the rethinking/restructuring of our discipline system and, of course, you and your Levels of Development came to our attention.

We have perused the “Quick Explanation” on your “Summary” link of your web site and have ordered your book. We are very interested in the “Raise Responsibility System.”

We have considered having posters with the A, B, C, D concepts printed for every classroom. However, several of us are concerned that these may come across as too juvenile for high school students. We suspect that these concerns will be addressed in your book when it arrives, but in the meantime can you allay these concerns or clarify how we might present the concepts to older students?

My Response:
The RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM is the subject of the third chapter. It shows how the A, B, C, D levels separate the student from behavior—thereby negating the need for a student to self-defend, which so often is the start of an adversarial dialogue.

Since some high school students are attracted to the idea of anarchy, Level A needs to be made personal. Discussions are the key. First, have students describe some situations which would occur if there were to be no law or order. The discussion will conjure up examples where some would steal and bully others. Anarchy generally suggests doing what you want without regard to others.

Then, make it personal. Ask how students would like it if there were no laws, no judicial system, and no executive department. “If someone stole something from you or bullied you and there were no laws against it, no system of justice, and no police to protect you, how would you like it?”

When anarchy is personalized it quickly loses its appeal.

For Bevel B, Bullying/Bothering—making one’s own rules—discuss how people feel when others push them around.

For Level C, talk about peer pressure and why we do things because we want to belong—even though we know that sometimes what the group is doing is neither good for them nor for us.

Understanding external motivation, Level C, and being able to recognize when peer pressure stimulates them to do something, is empowering. Having a way to articulate the concept allows young people to resist the power and persuasiveness of peer pressure.

For Level D, discuss what has given them the greatest satisfaction of anything they have ever done. The answer will always come to some personal satisfaction through effort, rather than someone’s telling them to do something.

Understanding internal motivation, Level D, and taking the initiative to do the right thing, brings feelings of satisfaction and internal rewards that Level C—external motivation—can never duplicate.

It is the teaching of these concepts of levels of social development that is the basis and sets the foundation for the “Raise Responsibility System.”

In terms of the direction, maturation, and satisfaction of your students’ lives, their having a way to recognize and differentiate differences between internal and external motivation may be one of the more important learnings your students will ever be given.

Regarding bulletin boards for your high school students:
(1) Post the vocabulary in a hierarchical order with “Anarchy” at the bottom and “Democracy” on top. On a personal note to show the effect of daily viewing, I am a graduate of Hollywood High School where every day I saw the school’s motto, “Achieve the Honorable.” How does one forget something seen every day for three years?

(2) Post questions which are reflective and self-evaluative, e.g., “Is what you are doing helping get your task done?” “Are you pleased with your effort?” “Is what you have done quality work?”

Finally, review significant points and the posters at products and services.