Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – January 2009

Volume 9 Number 1


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research



The use of failure as an educational strategy is a failure.
–Bill Page


An E-BOOK is now available for “Discipline Without Stress,
Punishments or Rewards – How Teachers and Parents Promote
Responsibility & Learning – 2nd edition.”

Three developments prompted this publication: (1) With the
downturn in the economy around the world, many people find
purchases of any kind to be more difficult. (2) The book
shows a more effective approach for responsible
decision-making than the use of REWARDING YOUNG PEOPLE FOR
undermining core democratic values. (3) More people are
becoming accustomed to reading online and from hand-held
communication devices.

The e-book is offered at a significant discount. A number of
pages from the book can be read before purchase. See



Harry and Rosemary Wong sent me a copy of their new 4th
EFFECTIVE TEACHER.” Their book is the best-ever selling
education book with over 3,000,000 copies sold.

As in their 3rd edition, The RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM is
the only discipline system described in detail. This version
includes the card/poster LEVELS OF DEVELOPMENT at
http://marvinmarshall.com/cards.html and the



I recently received the following e-mail:

“I was horrified to have a group of SECOND GRADERS ask me
what I would give them if they did the work I had just
assigned. I know that rewarding has become the standard for
teaching in many schools. I hope to see this modified over
time. I hope to interest the staff at my school in learning
more about the concepts of the DWS approach for encouraging
students to become responsible, excited learners.”

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is one
of these increasingly popular programs. It was created for
special education students and is now being thrust on all
students in many schools. The program prompts the type of
student thinking described above, namely, “What will I get
if I do what you want me to do?”

PBIS is a variation of the old Skinnerian approach designed
to reinforce desired behavior by using rewards as
incentives. In the process of using external manipulators,
intrinsic motivation for long-lasting responsible behavior
is reduced–as has been repeatedly proven.

Gene Griesman, Ph.D. is quoted in my book:
“Several years ago, I had the opportunity to do a lengthy
interview with B.F.Skinner. I concluded that I do not
subscribe to much of what he taught–for example his
rejection of all inferred states such as attitudes and


Last month’s e-zine reported on a school in Canada that
mandated teachers use the BPIS approach. Kerry followed up
on the case. She decided to see if there had been any more
happening in the Canadian school where PBIS was put on hold
due to the parents who decided to challenge this system.
Following is her post:

“It was Marv’s posting of the original article in his
December e-zine that prompted me to check in on this story
again. In a follow-up article, the newspaper explains that
the group of six parents hired a lawyer and prompted the
school board to halt the use of PBIS in the school. There
was something in Ontario law that states that parents must
be consulted when the school alters its code of conduct.

“No wonder when I contacted the woman myself and thanked her
for sticking up for kids in the face of this PBIS program,
she said she cried! I think the whole experience has been
absolutely devastating, not only for the six families who
questioned the rewards approach but also for the school.
It’s too bad that such a thing had to happen to these
families (whose children, keep in mind, were ALREADY WELL
BEHAVED and no one ever suggests otherwise–not even the
principal can say that these kids ever presented a problem
at all) who simply didn’t want their child’s motivation
level tampered with. They were already self-disciplined and
well behaved; why try to appeal to them in a lower fashion
with external rewards?

“The woman, Adele Mercier, told me that when the PBIS
program was in operation (and kids wore tags around their
necks for teachers to punch holes in), students had to have
a certain number of punches in order to try out for a soccer
team, join the chess club, play on the adventure playground
or even walk in the Terry Fox Walkathon to raise money for
cancer. Can you believe it??

“It’s just so amazing to me that a very large number of
parents in the school think that this type of thing is okay.
They should be thanking the six families that took a stand.
Unfortunately, much of what they think is based on
misunderstandings and ignorance about the well documented
results of rewarding.”

More of Kerry’s posts can be viewed at


The following is from an article by Bill Page

“The first time I really saw myself through the eyes of my
failing, average, loser, at-risk type student, Jim Bates, it
shocked me. Since I felt his pain, his helplessness, and his
frustration, I have never been the same as a teacher.

“Upon returning from school one day, I found my dog lying in
front of the screen door, blocking it from being opened. I
called his name, pushed him with my foot, and pulled on the
door, attempting to move him or get him to move. He didn’t
do anything but lie there looking up at me. I yanked harder
at the door, nudging him with my foot, as I pulled and
yelled at him to move. After several attempts to get him out
of the way, his perverseness, stubbornness, stupidity, or
whatever it was so angered me that I gave him a good solid
kick. It was then and subsequently, I learned that he was
paralyzed from having been bitten by a copperhead snake. The
sickening feeling that I got in the pit of my stomach from
realizing I had kicked a dog that couldn’t move was
precisely the feeling I got when I realized that I was
“kicking” Jim when he was helpless to respond as I wanted.

“Certainly, there are times when force is necessary and
desirable, just as it is in our society as a whole–armies,
police, prisons, etc., and thank goodness we have them to
control drug dealers, lunatics and evil people in our
communities. But to the extent that we are concerned as
teachers with long term, permanent changes in student
responsibility, attitudes, beliefs, self-actualization, self
discipline, maturity, values and independence, force, even
in its most subtle forms, is inappropriate, undesirable and


The great American humorist, Will Rogers said, “As
long as
you live, you’ll never find a method as effective in getting
through to another person as making that person feel
important.” He was right. When you make people feel
important, you get their cooperation.

Will Rogers was not talking about insincere flattery that
butter up people. He was simply referring to getting in the
habit of recognizing how important people are.

Cavett Robert, the founder of the National Speakers
Association, looked out his window one morning and saw a
skinny twelve-year-old boy going door to door selling books.
The boy was headed for his house. Robert turned to his wife
and said, “Just watch me teach this kid a lesson about
selling. After all these years of writing books about
communication and lecturing all over the country, I might as
well share some of my wisdom with him. I don’t want to hurt
his feelings, but I’ll get rid of him before he knows what’s
happened. I’ve used this technique for years, and it works
every time. Then I’ll go back and teach him how to deal with
people like me.”

Mrs. Robert watched as the young boy knocked on the door.
Mr. Robert opened the door and quickly explained that he was
a very busy man. He had no interest in buying any books. But
he said, “I’ll give you one minute, but I then have to
leave. I have a plane to catch.”

The young salesman was not daunted by Robert’s brush-off. He
simply stared at the tall, gray-haired, distinguished
looking man, a man whom he knew was fairly well known and
quite wealthy. The boy said, “Sir, could you be the famous
Cavett Robert?” To which Mr. Robert replied, “Come on in,

Mr. Robert bought several books from the youngster–books
that he might never read. The boy had mastered the principle
of making the other person feel important, and it worked.
It’s an approach that even the rich and famous or the big
and strong can rarely resist.

All people–especially young ones–wear little, invisible
signs around their necks that say, “Help Me Feel Important!”
And the truly effective teachers, parents, and leaders do
exactly that. They read the signs and act on them.


“OUTLIERS – The Story of Success” is Malcolm Gladwell’s
third and current #1 best selling book. (The other two are
“THE TIPPING POINT – How Little Things Can Make A Big
Difference” and “BLINK – The Power of thinking Without

Below are a few gems from OUTLIERS. (Note: The points become
more fully understood by reading the book and in no way
undermine the pleasure of reading it.)

–Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the
thing you do that makes you good. (p. 41)

–Given what we are learning about intelligence, the idea
that schools can be ranked, like runners in a race, make no
sense. (p. 83)

–(Regarding Lewis Terman, the developer of the Stanford
Binet IQ Test): Terman’s error was that he fell in love with
the idea that his high intelligence subjects were at the
absolute pinnacle of the intellectual scale–at the
ninety-ninth percentile of the ninety-ninth
percentile–without realizing how little that seemingly
extraordinary fact meant. (p.89) Terman concluded that
intellect and achievement are far from being perfectly
correlated. (p. 90)

–In Western communications, it is the responsibility of the
speaker to communicate ideas clearly and unambiguously; if
there is confusion, it is the fault of the speaker. In many
Asian countries, it is up to the learner to make sense of
what is being said. (p. 216)

–Success is a function of persistence and doggedness.
(p.246) A comparison of the TIMMS (Trends in International
Mathematics and Science Study) questionnaire and the test
results themselves are exactly the same. In countries where
students are willing to concentrate and sit still long
enough and focus on answering every single question in an
endless questionnaire are the same countries whose students
do the best job of solving math problems. We should be able
to predict which countries are best at math simply by
looking at which national cultures place the highest
emphasis on effort and hard work. (p. 247-248)

–There is a big difference in how number-naming systems in
Western and Asian languages are constructed. (p.228) That
difference means that Asian children learn to count much
faster than American children. Four-year-old Chinese
children can count, on average, to forty. American children
at that age can count only to fifteen, and most don’t reach
forty until they’re five. By the age of five, in other
words, American children are already a year behind their
Asian counterparts in the most fundamental of math skills.
(p. 229)

–Regarding the success of the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power
Program) in urban schools: Poor kids may out-learn rich kids
during the school year. But during the summer, they fall far
behind. Virtually all the advantages that wealthy students
have over poor students is the result of the way privileged
kids learn while they are NOT in school. (p.218) The school
year in the United States is, on average, 180 days long. The
South Korean school year is 220 days long. The Japanese
school year is 243 days long. America doesn’t have a school
problem. It has a summer vacation problem. (p.260) KIPP
students do three extra weeks in July. (p.261) The schools
report that, although it seems counterintuitive, they do
things at a slower pace, and as a result, get through a lot
more. (p.261) Students see the relationship between effort
and reward. (p. 261)

–The miracle of meaningful work (p. 269): My earliest
memories of my father are seeing him at his desk and
realizing that he was happy. I did not know it then, but
that was one of the most precious gifts a father can give
his child. (p. 298)

–Three things: autonomy, complexity, and connection between
effort and reward are the three qualities that work has to
have if it is to be satisfying. (p. 149) Work that fulfills
these three criteria is meaningful. (p.150)


Kerry included the following in her post about the book at

It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us
happy between nine and five. It’s whether our work fulfills
us. Being a teacher is meaningful. Hard work is a prison
sentence only if it does not have meaning. (p. 150 in the

It just occurred to me, as I read Gladwell’s book, that if
these three things–autonomy, complexity, and a connection
between effort and reward–are the things that make work
satisfying, as teachers this is significant information for
us in planning lessons for our students and in working with
them. As DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS suggests, autonomy is
supported by offering choices to our students, complexity is
often naturally built into whatever it is our students are
learning, and it’s important that we do our best to make
sure that students become more aware of how the results of
their efforts will pay off for them in some real way.

One thing Darlene and I have noticed with our grade one
students is that if we plan to create a “product” of some
kind as part of every learning theme, we can engage the
students so much more easily than if we simply had a series
of loosely related lessons about the theme. For example, if
we are studying an animal we might either work towards
creating a report, page by page, or a display board that can
be shared with others in our school library. When we do a
theme like dinosaurs, all our lessons might be connected to
learning that will eventually be displayed in a “museum” to
which we invite parents and others. We might make a lap book
connected to a topic that can be taken home and shared with
families. Two years ago when we studied fables, we worked
toward a Reader’s Theatre evening to which we invited

Most recently, when we did our Nursery Rhyme theme in
November, we created a piece of artwork for 12 different
nursery rhymes that we bound into a 2009 calendar that will
be wrapped this week to be given to each child’s family as a
Christmas present. The kids are so proud of their beautiful
calendars! Although our real purpose in doing the
twelve-cut/paste paper pictures of the rhymes was to help
the students become more coordinated and have more improved
cutting skills (because most of them were quite weak in this
area), having the long range goal of creating a calendar was
motivating for the students. The task was certainly complex
for grade ones as we had to reduce the size of each
cut/paste project in order to fit it onto a calendar size


This same idea of “production” is one of the many ideas that
made Bill Page such an extraordinary teacher as mentioned in
the “Welcome” section at


6. Discipline without Stress (DWS)


I am a third year art teacher in Florida. Three years ago, I
made a career change from a corporate field into teaching
and I have been searching ever since for a classroom
management system that would work in my classes. I was
given the DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS book by a fellow teacher
and I love the ideas set forth. My question is how to
effectively implement it into the art classroom. I see 25
classes a week. Each class only gets one 45-minute
session of art time each week. How can I balance introducing
the RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM and curriculum with such a
limited time. I would appreciate any suggestions.


Welcome to the most influential and satisfying of all

Here are a few quickies.

Link to
and post your question. It is necessary to join the mailring
in order to post it. You may receive responses that may
assist beyond the ones below.

Make a poster or purchase one of the Hierarchy of Social
Development. They are at two of the links at

At the outset, obtain examples from students or share your
examples of what each level would look like so that students
have a mental image of them.

Let students know that you believe one of the most important
things they can learn in school and in life is to understand
the difference between doing something to PLEASE
others–such as impressing their friends–(Level C) or doing
something because it is the most satisfying and best for all
concerned (Level D).

Focus on the difference between these two higher levels.

When a youngster fools around, whisper in the student’s ear,
“Don’t worry about what will happen. We will talk about it
later.” This question will redirect the student’s attention
and stop misbehavior because of the uncertainty of what will
happen. Don’t answer any question from the student. Keep in
mind that the person who asks the question controls the

Before class ends, use the phrasing at

http://marvinmarshall.com/impulsemanagement.html to
ELICIT A PROCEDURE FOR FUTURE irresponsible impulses.

Also download the teaching model, print it, and refer to it

Be sure you have a quick way of getting students’ attention,
such as that at


Finally, when you walk into a classroom, make a statement
like, “It’s nice to be a guest in your classroom. I know
that we’re going to have a good time together.” This will
immediately raise expectations for appropriate classroom

7. Testimonials/Research

Let me tell you, fostering social responsibility is the way
to go. I love when kids make “bad” choices because I love to
help them “think” through the decision with the language.
The approach changed my life and many children’s lives.

Tammy Jordan, Principal
Hutto, Texas