Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – August 2008

Volume 8 Number 8

1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships
5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research 


There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain
of improving, and that’s your own self.

Aldous Huxley.

I had the distinct pleasure of speaking in Toronto, Canada
last month at the 20th anniversary of Kumon Canada and the
dedication of their new corporate office.

The event coincided with the 50th anniversary of Kumon
http://www.kumon.com. Toro Kumon was a high school math
teacher in Osaka, Japan. When his son had difficulty with
mathematics, Kumon started to tutor him. The success was so
great that two years later in 1956, he opened a tutoring
service. Two years later, he founded the Kumon Educational
Center. His legacy lives on as thousands world-wide have
attended and continue to attend Kumon tutorial services to

The Kumon approach is very individualized and LEARNED (vs.
being taught) in small reinforced segments until basic
skills become automatic. Math skills up to calculus and
advanced reading skills are learned in Kumon after-school


The evening after my presentation, I turned on the
television set in my hotel room. A movie was playing; it was
one of my all-time favorites–for the actors, the music, and
the story. Among the actors were Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons,
Carol Baker, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford,
and Chuck Connors.

Once a person is familiar with the Hierarchy of Social (and
personal) Development, its meaning and applications continue
to expand. You begin to analyze current events, historical
events, characters in literature, and even motion pictures.
IS INSPIRING. The viewer clearly sees the culture as
dominated by Level C motivation in their code of conformity.
As one of the characters says, referring to Gregory Peck,
“He is a rare man.”

When you want a couple of hours of solid “old-time”
entertainment, whether you have seen it or not, check out
“The Big Country.”


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States
Treasury Department has granted DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS
(DWS), INC. tax-deductible 501(c)(3) status. This means that
any person, corporation, or foundation that contributes to
this nonprofit charitable education organization can RECEIVE

If you can recommend any corporation (and many larges ones
have a line item budget for charitable contributions),
please take a moment and mail your suggestions to me at

Also, if you have heard or know of any foundation that might
be interested in investing in the future citizens of the
USA, please send them, too. By law, many foundations can
only contribute to 501(c)(3) organizations.

We are also interested in recommendations for a successful
grant writer.

Please take a moment to see the site so you can recommend it
for others to visit. The procedure for receivning free books
and staff development is described at

Thanks for your assistance in improving low economic and
especially urban schools in the USA.


People have referred to “Discipline Without Stress” in a
variety of shortened versions. In an effort to standardize
an abbreviation for “Discipline Without Stress,” reference
will be made to “DWS.”

If you want to look up what an acronym stands for, a very
convenient site is http://www.acronymfinder.com/

If you enter DWS in the link and scan down the list, you
will see one entry for DWS = Discipline Without Stress.


The USA’s largest character education conference is
sponsored by the Cooperating School Districts in St. Louis,
Missouri. I have had the pleasure of presenting at their
conferences for the last few years. In one of my
presentations there last month, I was asked if the skill I
often refer to as “Asking Reflective Questions” has any
examples on my website. I suggested that it would be posted
in “A Quick Start” link.

It wasn’t. BUT IT IS NOW. See


Abraham Maslow wrote in “Motivation and Personality”
(1954), that self-actualization was at the top of the
hierarchy of needs. In his later years, however, Maslow
began referring to an even higher level, self-transcendence,
by which he meant living for something greater than oneself.

This means being of service to others: family, friends,
community, country. There is special significance that can
only be experienced when we go beyond ourselves to be of
service to others.

This idea is represented in Rotary International’s creed of
“Service above self.”

Although it is a natural desire to be recognized for
assisting others, the greatest reward is the feeling
received from giving–something akin to Level D motivation.
See http://marvinmarshall.com/hierarchy.htm 


Take a daily vacation. Take some time of your day to “tune
out.” The investment of time when you are not thinking about
your work refreshes, thereby increasing you effectiveness.

This is not being selfish. It is realistic. As the
announcements on airplanes advise, “In case of emergency
when the oxygen mask drops down in front of you, put your
own mask on first before attempting to help someone else.”

A daily 20-minute vacation temporarily tosses your cares
away. It helps you keep a positive disposition.

The emphasis is on DAILY. Don’t wait until your yearly
vacation time; stay refreshed all year. You will find that
you have more energy and will be more effective.


Ready, aim, reflect:

Is what I am about to do or say going to improve my


Every few years a new program is introduced that becomes the
silver bullet for “fixing” education. A few years later this
savior can become the devil. Open classrooms was the
cure-all; how often do you see them now? The reason that you
don’t is that the “problem” in schools became open
classrooms. Large group lectures, small group discussions,
and independent study were the “fix” for secondary schools.
Where are they being used now? “Teaching by Objectives”
became the rage. What happened to this “savior of
education”? “Assertive Discipline” was mandated in many
schools; now many school districts outlaw it. A current rage
is Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBS for
short). This approach is such a cure-all that entire states
are mandating it.

When will we learn that in the art of teaching and in the
skills of learning, success is determined by PEOPLE, NOT
PROGRAMS! Programs do not motivate, inspire, or create the
perseverance necessary for success in school–or in life.

For 10 other ineffective approaches, see

6. Discipline without Stress (DWS)

The following was recently posted on the discipline
chalkboard at http://teachers.net. The poster asked how to
deal with a problem of gum chewing in a band class. Kerry, a
member of the DWS mailring, responded with advice that
suggested that the solution might lie in the area of
structure and classroom management.

Many educators confuse classroom management with discipline.
Although intertwined, the two are separate and distinct. For
more on the differences between classroom management and
discipline, see


I am a middle school band teacher. I am trying to find a
way to reduce the amount of gum chewing I have to deal with
in class. If I were teaching math or something, it wouldn’t
be that big of a deal as long as it did not disturb the
class (like intentional smacking, wrapper noise with food
and candy, and lack of proper wrapper/bag disposal).
The thing that irritates me the most is the student who is
using a school-owned instrument (who also hasn’t paid the
maintenance fee that I can’t really demand because we have
to call it a “donation”) that chews gum and eats food all
the time.

What strategies would you use to curb down on food
consumption during class? Would giving detentions for that
be effective or does that punishment not fit the crime? I
do need to do a better job of addressing instrument care
overall, but I don’t know how effective that will be. Most
students would respectfully throw out their gum/candy if I
looked at them and pointed my finger in my mouth, but how
can I teach them not to do it in the first place?


If most of your students would respectfully throw the gum
away once you mentioned it to them, why not just be
proactive in dealing with this issue at the beginning of the
year by discussing it and then establishing a procedure or
two. I find that establishing procedures avoids many
situations that might later on look like discipline issues
if I didn’t deal with them proactively.

I’m not a band teacher but here’s what I might do in a
similar situation:

Knowing that gum chewing has been a problem in the past, on
the first day of class I would discuss the situation with
students. To be most effective, I find that including them
in the conversation by ELICITING IDEAS from them works well.

I would begin by explaining that although it’s not so much
the smacking and the wrapper noise, etc. that bothers me, I
do have a concern about something else related to gum
chewing in class.

It might take them a bit of thinking to come up with the
reason that gum chewing is a problem in band class
specifically, but that would be good. Promoting THINKING and
REFLECTING about behavior are the first steps to influencing
others to change.

(By the way, since this discussion is happening proactively
and therefore positively, I can see that it would be a time
where you could interject a bit of humor with your own
acting out of smacking and crumpling some noisy piece of

Then once the students come up with the reasons (or worst
case scenario, you had to tell them,), I’d move on to
discuss the price of band instruments, the lack of
replacement funds that could be better used in other ways
than replacing perfectly good instruments, the respect I
would like to see with regard to school band property, the
maturity level of those who carelessly spit gum and food
into band instruments, the quality of sound produced by an
instrument clogged with food, the health issues involved,
etc. (Since I’m not a musician, I actually don’t know any
the problems you might encounter; these are just my best
guesses.) Then I would ask them if they could see the sense
in my concerns. Most likely, your respectful students would.

Then it would be easy to include them in planning few
procedures or for explaining the importance of the ones you
expect them to use. I’d probably plan a procedure for what
they should do when they arrive at class with food or gum in
their mouth. The procedure might be to have a trash can
set up near the door for depositing gum, or that they put
their food in their backpack, or that they rinse their mouth
at the water fountain.

Maybe a sign on the door, asking something like, “Have you
remembered to deposit your gum?” might be a helpful
reminder. By discussing it ahead of time, you’re ensuring
that students would view your intention is one of being “helpful”
rather than nagging. They might say that a sign’s not
necessary and then I wouldn’t do it. But on the other hand,
if they felt it would be helpful, I’d go ahead and post it.
I would have at least one other procedure, too: A silent
signal such as you mentioned that could be used if a student
accidentally forgot. I’d encourage students to use this
signal among themselves, as well as the teacher using it,
thus prompting them to take responsibility
for this issue.

During the remainder of the year, if one or two
students seemed to be deliberately and/or often NOT
following the procedures, I could approach it as an actual
discipline situation. At that point, consequences might be
necessary. In the discipline approach I use, Discipline
without Stress, Punishments or Rewards (DWS for short),
consequences are ELICITED from the student, which eliminates
bad feelings and resentments that are often created when a teacher
simply imposes a consequence.

In other words, I would have a private discussion with the
individual, again reviewing the procedures and reasons that
had been discussed earlier in the year. I would ask THE
STUDENT to tell me what would be an appropriate consequence
for someone who did not comply with the food/gum
expectations in class. I’d continue the discussion until a
suitable and related consequence was agreed upon.

Then, the very next time the same student didn’t follow the
gum/food expectations, I would have the student carry out
the consequence previously planned.

It has been my experience that this works very effectively.
Students almost always willingly and cooperatively fulfill
the consequence that they have previously outlined FOR

7. Testimonials/Research

The following was a response to a post at
that inquired if the system could be used at high school.

Once you teach the four levels and the students know the
difference in the levels, it is up to the teacher to ask the
right kinds of questions. The whole beauty of this program
is that you don’t choose punishments or rewards; you simply
ask questions to elicit what the student believes should
happen to correct the choices he/she has made. If that
includes any restitution with another person, the student
acknowledges that and follows through.

The first year with this program, I spent most of the time
training myself…cleaning out the old questions that were
accusatory and judgmental and replacing them with questions
that elicit thoughtful, honest responses from the student
that you come back to later should the student not follow
through with what he/she said.

If you can get the process of asking meaningful questions
once the kids have the levels understood, you’ve got it. It
shouldn’t interfere with content at all. It should support
content by giving you more classroom time with well-behaved
students who make better choices.

Amy Read
San Antonio, Texas.