Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – July 2011

Volume 11 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



“What you focus on is what you get back.”

–W. Mitchell, author of the book “It’s Not What Happens to You – It’s What You Do About It.”


A website that ranks speakers was brought to my attention:

The message on the site states: “Marvin Marshall does not have enough points to be ranked yet. You can help.”

If you have ever heard me present, please take a few minutes to look at the site and submit a rank.

Thank you.


Mimi Donaldson, a fellow member of the National Speakers Association, recently gave me a copy of her newest book,”NECESSARY ROUGHNESS: New Rules for the Contact Sport of Life.” The book uses football as a metaphor for the challenges of life.

Mimi is a best-selling author and international speaker who explains differences between males and females. Here are some of my favorites from Mimi’s book:

–While watching a football game on a Sunday afternoon after the whistle blew, Mimi’s friend saw her wiping a tear from her eyes and inquired, “Why?” Mimi responded, “Oh, Joe, That’s my favorite part of the game. The guy from one team knocked down a guy from the other team. Then he reached his hand out to help him up.” Joe responded that when the whistle blew the play was over and the guy was helping the other guy up so they can start knocking each other down again. He explained that it was about efficiency, not compassion.

–Men bond through competition and mind games. Women don’t bond through competition. Women bond through stories.

–Men seem to be more about the destination than the journey. Women are all about the journey.

–Men talk to exchange facts, ideas, and information. Women talk to process their thoughts and feelings.

–Women tend to take in a number of impressions simultaneously and later focus on specifics. Men, on the other hand, start by focusing on specific facts, then move to encompass the big picture.

As a society, we have learned that we grow through better understanding and acceptance of others. We refer to this as diversity. And it applies to gender.

You can read more about Mimi at mimidonaldson.com


Tom Sawyer was a better psychologist than any behaviorist.
Tom had others COMMITTED to whitewashing Aunt Polly’s fence.

Starting in the 1950’s and 1960’s (and still very much alive today), the dominant theory of Western civilization’s human and educational theory came from the doctrines of behaviorists, the most renowned of whom was B.F. Skinner.
Their theories were based on the idea that since the human brain cannot be observed, they could best determine the brain’s functioning by observing actions. The thinking went something like, “Let’s measure behaviors and learn to modify them with behavior reinforcers. If we like it, reward it. If we don’t, punish it.”

Behaviorists believe that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning. They rely on EXTERNAL sources to actuate change. They completely neglect the INTERNAL, which is a prime reason that today’s neuroscientists do not rely on these approaches for humans.

Unfortunately, a carrot and stick approach–used to train rodents, birds, and animals–is employed in much of education and parenting. Although behaviorism is touted for special education students who are given tangibles to reinforce desired behaviors, this approach is often used now (and in SOME CASES MANDATED) FOR ALL STUDENTS.

Although external sources can CONTROL, they cannot CHANGE people. PEOPLE CHANGE THEMSELVES.

External sources focus on obedience, but obedience does not create desire or commitment. The approach trains for compliant behavior–not for democratic living.

In contrast to using external and manipulative behaviorist approaches, this newsletter–as its title indicates–is aimed at helping to inspire, promote desire, and drive commitment for responsible behavior and learning.


The following is based on “THE OPTIMISM BIAS,” Time Magazine, June 6, pp 40-46.

The belief that the future will be much better than the past and present is known as the optimism bias.

A brain that DOESN’T EXPECT GOOD RESULTS lacks a signal that tells it, “Take notice; wrong answer!” These brains will fail to learn from mistakes and are less likely to improve over time. Expectations become self-fulfilling, which ultimately affects what happens in the future.

A man is at London’s Heathrow Airport waiting to board a plane to Austria for a skiing holiday. His plane has been delayed for three hours already because of snowstorms at his destination. “I guess this is both a good and bad thing,” he thinks. Waiting at the airport is not pleasant, but he quickly concludes that more snow today means better skiing conditions tomorrow. His brain works to match the unexpected misfortune of being stuck at the airport to eagerly anticipating a better sitation.

A key ingredient of optimism is hope because it keeps our minds at ease, lowers stress, and improves physical health.

Optimism and hope relate to how the brain works. The brain can imagine the future–to enable us to prepare for what has yet to come.

To think positively about our prospects, we must first be able to imagine ourselves in the future. Optimism starts with what may be the most extraordinary of human talents:
mental time travel, the ability to move back and forth through space in one’s mind. Without a neural mechanism that generates what the future may be like in a positive scenario, all humans could be mildly depressed.

The article confirms “positivity” as the first of the three principles to practice:


After forming our beliefs, we defend, justify, and rationalize them. We do this through a number biases. Among them are:

–Relying too heavily on only one reference.

–Valuing the opinions of experts (as contrasted to their knowldege).

–Evaluating an argument based on its conclusions.

–Using evidence in support of already existing beliefs and ignoring or reinterpreting disconfirming evidence.

On top of all these biases, there is the in-group bias in which we place more value on the beliefs of those whom we perceive to be fellow members of our group and less on the beliefs of those from different groups.

We have a tendency to recognize the power of cognitive biases in other people BUT ARE BLIND TO THEIR INFLUENCE ON OUR OWN BELIEFS.

Even scientists are not immune to experimenter-expectation bias or the tendency to notice, select, and publish data that agree with their expectations and to ignore, discard, or disbelieve data that do not.

When we understand that biases are a part of us, we can be more understanding of other’s vulnerabilities and viewpoints.


“BACK TO SCHOOL FOR THE BILLIONAIRES: They hoped their cash could transform failing classrooms. They were wrong,” writes Newsweek Magazine (May 9). The magazine investigated what their money bought from their investments:

Bill Gates $3 billion, The Sam Walton family $538 million,
Eli Broad $440 million, and Michael Dell $400 million.

Microsoft chairman Gates, computer magnate Michael Dell, Investor Eli Broad, and the Walton family of Walmart fame have collectively poured some $4.4 billion into school reform in the past decade through their private foundations.

“The results are dispiriting proof that money alone can’t repair the desperate state of urban education. The setbacks had to be humbling experiences for titans accustomed to success. There weren’t many positive results that we could identify,” concluded the article which stated that all the foundations are trying to tackle the same problem: very low student achievement, especially in low income areas.

The article stated, “Eli Broad moved on to the front
lines: superintendents, principals, and school district management, ultimately spending $116 million on training people to work in schools and district offices and another
$71 million on central office reforms and teacher evaluation, preparation, and pay schemes.”

My reaction to the article was that the results are what I would have expected. The reason is that any improvement must have at its foundation activities and interrelationships that occur IN CLASSROOMS–which should have as their basis collaboration, rather than competition.

Having been in business and having been awarded a master’s degree in business administration, I have both theoretical and practical experiences in business. These have led to my writing the EPILOGUE in my education book. The section clearly shows how using a business model to improve education is fallacious. But that is the model these business executives use.


The following was a post at
and beautifully explains how even the very young can understand the four levels of the Hierarchy of Social Development. The four concepts are in CAPTTAL LETTERS representing the four levels of social development from the lowest (A) to the highest (D).

I began by reminding the students of their study in third grade of the life cycle of a butterfly. They recalled that there are four stages of development: egg, caterpillar, pupa (cocoon), and butterfly. We talked about how all butterflies are in some stage of this process but have no control over their movement through the process.

We then moved on to comparing the butterfly’s life cycle to that of humans. We decided that humans go through four basic stages as well. We called them: baby/infant, child/youth, adolescence/teen, and adult/grown-up. We agreed that humans, like the butterfly, have little control over stages of physical development.

Then we began to look at the four stages of social development in which one human and/or an entire society could operate. We talked about what a human and a society in ANARCHY (A) would look like and how such a situation was so hopeless. Then we talked about what would likely occur to remedy the problems of an anarchy-based society. We decided that someone would rise up and take control of the situation (thereby BOSSING OR BULLYING)(B) and that this may or may not be a good thing. We looked at countries around the world where we thought this might have happened.

Next we moved on to looking at the level of control or power in a group of friends. We decided that a group of friends works together (COOPERATION) (C) to share control based on what they agree is their mission and that oftentimes this mission and the group control is not even discussed; it is more or less just understood among the group members. From here a discussion of blind CONFORMITY (C) developed and how this type of cooperation is not necessarily good. We went on to look at how being considerate of others and cooperating for the right reasons resulted in a democratic society

Finally, we talked about how we had more control over our stage of social development than we did over our stage of physical development. The thought of being in control over something about themselves heightened their interest in the Raise Responsibility System.


In a cocoon, threads grow that hold the new butterfly to it.

What would happen if you cut the thread for the butterly?
Would the butterfly fly?

Never! The wings do not have the strength yet. You would not be doing the butterfly a service. The butterfly needs to continue breaking the cocoon to gain the strength to fly.

Here is a key parenting concept: Do not do things for young people that they can do for themselves.


More and more research is showing that incentives such as rewards work for MANUAL, NON-THINKING types of behaviors.
However, whenever even rudimentary COGNITIVE SKILLS are involved, rewards are counterproductive to the three most effective motivators: AUTONOMY, MASTERY, and PURPOSE.

Sharing this enlightened approach is one purpose for this newsletter and for the free information on my website.

I think you will enjoy the clip regarding motivation at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQPCbXVXQWI

Another Dan Pink clip regarding motivation is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrkrvAUbU9Y&feature=related


June 7, 2011

Dear Dr. Marshall,

I have been a fan or yours since 2006 when I discovered your Raise Responsibility System while researching behavior plans for my master’s thesis. To celebrate the completion of my degree I took a trip to St. Louis to hear you speak at the
2007 Character Conference. I wanted to shake your hand and thank you for your work but, because others surrounded you, I guess I decided to go on to the next seminar thinking I would see you later. I have regretted that decision ever since then. Once again, I have missed an opportunity to meet you. I fell behind on reading your newsletters in April and May and today I discovered you were in the Chicago area last month. I feel so disappointed that I missed another opportunity to meet you as well as to listen to you share your unique, cutting-edge system of behavior management.
Since I missed you, I deeply desire to get in touch with other educators who are interested in, or who have implemented, the Raise Responsibility System in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago.

During the four years since my graduation, I have been working as a substitute teacher. Throughout my travels to five school districts to teach all ages from preschool through high school, I have become painfully aware that the prevalent system of rewards and consequences is outdated. I have heard many teachers say with sadness or disgust, “Kids are not the same as they were when I started teaching.”

If students are different, how can the same way of dealing with their behavior still be effective? Isn’t it evident that the system of rewards and consequences is not working, when the same students continually misbehave throughout their school careers in spite of all the opportunities for rewards they are offered and the numerous consequences they have incurred? I strongly believe that The Raise Responsibility System is the answer to guiding and supporting the new student of today toward the development of sincere responsibility and self-control.

I feel the deepest gratitude to you for developing and tirelessly teaching the Raise Responsibility System throughout the world.


Erin Pankey
Point Barrington, Illinois