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PBIS Another Educational Folly

Behavior Modification or behaviorism in the form of PBIS is widely used in schools and homes.

In fact, this approach of catching kids dong what the teacher wants and then giving rewards to reinforce the behavior is still mandated by state school administrators around the country.

Ask any teacher who has implemented this external approach in the form of PBIS (Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports) to promote responsible behavior and you will hear that, after using this approach for any length of time, it becomes counterproductive. PBIS fails in a number of ways for promoting expected appropriate behavior:

• PBIS is unfair because it is IMPOSSIBLE to reward every student for everything the adult desires.

• Adults are not consistent in giving rewards, so students feel the approach is not fair.

• PBIS misinforms young people because it instills the idea that society will reward them for responsible behavior.

• PBIS has young people compete, rather than cooperate or collaborate. Competition is an incentive for improving performance. However, cooperation and collaboration are more effective approaches to improve learning.

• The kinds of rewards teacher give are those that kids want, rather than those that help develop adult values for maturity to live in a democratic society.

• The practice promotes narcissism, a selfishness that is harmful to young people and to society.

• The most satisfying of rewards is INTERNAL, not external.

The psychologist whose theory PBIS was upon was B.F. Skinner of Harvard University. He used behavior modification to train rodents and pigeons and then extrapolated that this approach would also work on humans. The approach COMPLETELY excludes any recognition of “internal” motivation; it only recognizes behavior, not motivation. Neuroscientists and experts on human motivation do not use external approaches to motivate towards internal motivation.

In addition, this outmoded approach relies on some other person. What happens when no adult is around to give a reward when a young person acts appropriately?

Tom Sawyer was a better psychologist than B.F. Skinner. Learn how internal motivation is so much more effective than behaviorism with its new name of PBIS.

Dr. Marvin Marshall
Phone: 714.220.1882
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