Volume 8 Number 7
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Promoting Learning
6. Discipline without Stress
7. Testimonials and Research
MONTHLY RESPONSIBILITY AND LEARNING QUOTE:
Increase the positives and decrease the negatives so that
all students keep their yearning for learning.
W. Edwards Deming.
Some people think that individuality is simply a matter of
being different from everyone else–having a different hair
style, dressing differently, or having an individualized tattoo.
Being really different has nothing to do with this type of
individuality. For example, If you get a tattoo for the same
reason others get a tattoo, then others are influencing
you–and in some cases, directing you. Anyway you look at
it, conformity is at play because that is what is motivating
It requires some sophistication to determine if what you are
doing is to please others and go along (external
motivation)–or because you believe it is the right or
responsible thing to do. The former is really conformity.
The latter is individuality.
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
You always have a choice as to how you respond
youngster makes a mistake or does something wrong.
You can focus on the PAST, as in, “You should have been more
careful!” Or you can focus on the FUTURE, as in, “Next time,
what can we do so that your your milk will not spill?”
(Notice the use of the collaborative “we,” rather than
NOBODY CAN UNDO THE PAST.
If you talk about what a person did wrong–what should have
been done–the youngster will only resent it (AND the adult)
because it cannot be undone. Focusing on the past will
result in criticizing, blaming complaining, threatening, or
punishing. Any of these will result in stress and negative
feelings on the part of all involved.
You will promote responsible behavior so much more
effectively if you communicate in terms of, “So let’s talk
about what has been learned and how to do it better next
When you do, you will immediately become a coach instead of
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
Oftentimes a person will not be successful because of that
person’s self-talk. Successful salespeople know this. THE
FIRST SALE MUST BE TO YOURSELF.
If you are not sold on the product, service, idea or
whatever you are “marketing,” then the potential for success
will be diminished.
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
Does the greatest pain come from natural causes–or
PEOPLE prompt their greatest pain?
Upon reflection, I believe you will find that a NATURAL
DISASTER or other negative circumstance stimulates us to
think, “What can I do now?” and “What are my options?”
However, when a SOMEONE ELSE does or says something that
stimulates us in a negative manner, we may not think of our
options. We simply suffer–allowing the unintentional,
selfish, or cruel comment to actuate depressing feelings.
So often, we allow ourselves to become victims without even
As I state in my book, monkeys know enough not to chew on
the skin of a banana; they eat only the healthy part. We
humans, however, so often chew on the unhealthy skin. It
need not be.
We have the ability to change our thinking and our
subsequent feelings. I learned a strategy to help me do this
in a very interesting way. When I first started speaking
professionally and for a number of years thereafter, I would
pass out evaluation forms. More often than I had
anticipated, I would read one evaluation completely unlike
all of the others and wonder if this evaluator attended the
same seminar as the other people. (This experience just
proves the quotation in the next section.)
Rather than take a poor evaluation personally, I thought of
how much this attendee missed. I learned that an evaluation
is at least as much a reflection of the person doing the
evaluation as the person being evaluated.
So, if someone communicates to you in a way that prompts a
negative feeling, rather than chew on this unhealthy
message, take what you can learn from it and discard the
rest–just as a smart monkey would do. As my mother used to
say to me, “Always consider the source.”
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS IMMACULATE PERCEPTION.
WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU THOUGHT BEFORE YOU LOOKED.
Our beliefs direct our thoughts, and these thoughts mold our
perceptions. These perceptions then direct our actions.
In 1960, Douglas McGregor published “The Human Side of
Enterprise.” This book was a major influence in promoting
the application of behavioral sciences in organizations.
McGregor studied various approaches to managing people and
concluded that managerial approaches could be understood
from the ASSUMPTIONS managers made about people. McGregor
concluded that the thinking and activity of people in
authority is based on two very different sets of
assumptions. He referred to these assumptions as Theory X
and Theory Y.
McGregor labeled the assumptions upon which the top-down,
authoritarian style is based as Theory X. He concluded that
this style is inadequate for full development of human
potential. Theory X is based on the following beliefs:
1. The average person has an inherent dislike for work and
will avoid it if possible.
2. Because of this human characteristic of dislike for work,
most people must be coerced, controlled, directed, or
threatened with punishment to get them to put forth adequate
effort toward the achievement of goals.
3. The average person prefers to be directed, wishes to
avoid responsibility, has relatively little ambition, and
wants security above all.
These assumptions can be seen as goals that are imposed and
decisions that are made without involving the participants.
Rewards are contingent upon conforming to the system.
Punishments are the consequence of deviation from the rules.
Theory X styles vary from “hard” to “soft.” A drill
instructor uses a “hard” approach. A “soft” approach is used
in less coercive strategies, such as coaxing and rewarding.
Theory Y assumptions are more consistent with current
research and knowledge, and they lead to higher motivation
and greater success. The central principle of Theory Y is to
create conditions whereby participants are self-directed in
their efforts at the organizationÕs success. This approach
is most effectively achieved using collaboration, rather
than through coercion.
Some assumptions of Theory Y are:
1. The expenditure of physical and mental effort is as
natural in work as it is in play. The average person does
not inherently dislike work. Depending upon controllable
conditions, work may be a source of satisfaction and will be
voluntarily performed, or it can be a source of punishment
and will be avoided.
2. People will exercise self-direction and self-control
toward objectives to which they are committed.
3. Commitment to objectives depends on the rewards
associated with achieving them. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT OF SUCH
REWARDS IS THE INTERNAL REWARD OF SELF-SATISFACTION.
Theory Y encourages growth and development. Above all,
Theory Y points up the fact that the limits of human
collaboration are not limits of human nature but of the
authority figures’ ingenuity and skill in discovering how to
realize the potential of the people with whom they work.
Theory Y is not a soft approach to managing. It can be a
very demanding style. It sets up realistic expectations and
expects people to achieve them. It is more challenging to
the participants–the teacher, the student, the parent, and
the administrator or manager.
While a growing number of people in education use a Theory Y
approach, many schools still tend toward Theory X in
attempts to change behavior, especially when disciplining.
People who use Theory X rely on external motivators to
influence, manipulate, and change others.
In contrast, the Theory Y person uses collaboration and
realizes that improvement comes through desire, rather than
by control. In using Theory Y, for example, errors are
viewed as feedback because this is the key characteristic
for promoting growth and continual improvement.
An old story dramatizes the effects of Theory X. An
expedition of scientists went on a mission to capture a
Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. Only an estimated 100-200 of this
particular species exists, and they reside only in the
jungles of Vietnam. The objective was to capture one of the
monkeys alive and unharmed.
Using their knowledge of monkeys, the scientists devised a
trap consisting of a small bottle with a long narrow neck. A
handful of nuts was placed in it, and the bottle was staked
out and secured by a thin wire attached to a tree. Sure
enough, one of the desired monkeys scented the nuts in the
bottle, thrust an arm into the long neck, and grabbed a
fistful. But when the monkey tried to withdraw the prize,
his fist, now made larger by its contents, would not pass
through the narrow neck of the bottle. He was trapped,
anchored in the bottle, unable to escape with his booty, and
yet unwilling to let go. The monkey was easily captured.
We may smile at such foolishness, but in some respects we
operate in the same manner. We cling to the very things that
hold us back, remaining captive through sheer unwillingness
to let go. So often people fail because of what they will
not give up. THEY CLING TO WHAT HAS ALWAYS WORKED, CLEARLY
AFTER IT HAS STOPPED WORKING.
THE PERSON WHO HOLDS ON TO COERCION, IN ALL ITS VARIOUS
FORMS, WILL REMAIN CAPTIVE LIKE THE MONKEY. In a sense, the
person loses freedom. A person becomes liberated when
willing to let go of the coercion and manipulation of Theory
X with its stress, resistance, and poor relationships. The
use of the collaboration and empowerment of Theory Y reduces
stress, improves relationships, and is much more powerful in
effecting change in others.
APPLICATION TO THE CLASSROOM
How a person attempts to motivate others depends upon how
the person views others. If the teacher views a student’s
irresponsible behavior as being deliberatively disruptive,
then the coercive approaches of Theory X will most probably
be employed. Poor relationships and stress are natural
outcomes of this approach.
In contrast, if the teacher perceives that the behavior is
the youngster’s best attempt to solve a frustration or
problem, then the adult views the situation as an
opportunity to help and uses the approaches of theory Y. In
the process, resistance and resentment are reduced, and
effectiveness is increased.
Some examples of Theory X practices that are oftentimes used
by teachers, parents, and leaders are listed at
6. Discipline without Stress
The following is from one of Kerry’s posts at
We had a presentation by a parent at our regular Monday
assembly that gave me a wonderful opportunity to reinforce
for my students an understanding of Level D and the
wonderful feelings that are generated inside us when we
operate from a place of internal motivation.
I just thought I would share this little story to encourage
people to look for everyday opportunities to connect the
Discipline Without Stress Hierarchy
to real life events that are happening in your school and
classroom. For me, making personal connections to the levels
is the best way to influence students to change their
behaviour. I know of no other discipline approach that can
so easily and naturally be used to actually INSPIRE kids to
want to be good people who choose “to do the right thing.”
Our students were involved in a project to help a little
school in Molo, Kenya. One of the parents in our school had
lived in Kenya as a child and she and her brothers and
sisters returned to Kenya for a month-long holiday. It was a
dream of hers that she could connect our school with a
Kenyan school in order to give our students a small
opportunity to develop compassion for others less fortunate
than they. She found information about a school in a place
called Molo that helped street children to attend school.
Here’s a bit of the story of how/why this school was
founded–primarily by Sonia Donnan:
“On my arrival in Kenya I became distressed at the number of
children on the street looking for food. Unlike other
places, most of the street children in Molo were not
homeless, but their families were too poor to feed them.
“On talking to some boys it became clear that although
education was free they were unable to attend school because
they couldn’t afford the school uniforms. I set out to raise
money to try to provide uniforms for as many boys as I
could afford. Having raised the money, I teamed up with a
member of Molo Happy Church to recruit suitable boys. We had
to choose boys who had homes and parents who would provide
food and encourage them to go to school.”
Our school raised money to send to Molo. With some of the
money, we purchased backpacks and filled them with simple
school supplies, soccer balls and letters from our students
wishing the Molo students well. We also put in some of our
older school team uniforms that were in good shape, yet were
too small to fit most of the students in our older two
grades (North American kids today are much taller and bigger
than they were even just ten years ago.) Despite great civil
unrest in Kenya at the time of her visit, the parents in our
school finally managed to get the backpacks and money our
school had raised through to the school in Molo.
Although we received a letter stating that our gifts had
been gratefully received, it wasn’t until the end of the
school year that we actually had further contact with the
Molo Street Project. We were surprised with some student
letters from the Kenyan school, along with several photos of
the 30 students we had managed to outfit with the official
school uniforms that enabled them to attend school for the
first time in their lives. At our Monday assembly, the
parent gave a little presentation in the gym. She taught our
Alex Aitken School students some Kenyan words–“Jambo” means
hello and the already familiar, “Hakuna Matata” (the
repeated phrase in The Lion King) means “No problem!” On a
large screen in the darkened gym, she showed breathtaking
pictures of African animals she had photographed on her
holiday and then she showed the pictures received from Molo.
The first photo showed the Molo kids standing in a long row
holding their new backpacks in front of them. In the second
photo they raised their backpacks to proudly display the
school uniforms we had purchased for them. Then to our kids’
delight, the third photo appeared on the screen. Once again
all the Molo students we had helped were featured in a line,
but this time they had our soccer balls at their feet, and
they were wearing our very own familiar Alex Aitken sports
shirts! Everyone was deeply touched. Children and adults
alike felt enormous warmth inside as our hearts were filled
with the joy of having genuinely helped other human beings.
Most adults in the room were seen wiping tears away when the
lights went back on.
Because the Molo presentation was at the very end of our
assembly, we all left the gym on a very high note and
returned to the classroom. As my students sat down–still
with that Level D feeling present in their bodies–I placed
the small version of our classroom hierarchy on the
chalkboard in front of them and asked them to notice the
feeling of warmth in their chests. I asked them to tell me
the level that was associated with the strong feeling we all
were experiencing in that moment. Many raised their hands to
tell me that it was Level D. Then the child with the
lowest academic ability in the whole class explained that we
were feeling that wonderful feeling inside because we had
done something to help some other kids–“We had done it just
because we WANTED to help them out, and that’s Level D.”
Then I took the opportunity to further explain that people
who know how the hierarchy works understand that they can
actually CREATE this wonderful feeling for themselves. They
know that by CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSING to do things from a place
of internal motivation, they can experience this amazing
feeling–any time they like!
So again, just another little experience from my own
teaching, written in the hopes of encouraging other teachers
to incorporate discussions of the hierarchy into the regular
school day–all year long. The power of this approach comes
from helping young people internalize an understanding of
the hierarchy over time, with the hope that students come to
realize they can rely on the levels to help them make
satisfying and good choices each and every day of their
lives. I truly believe that Marv’s hierarchy is a gift that
we give to our students. I feel so lucky to have found a
teaching approach that provides me with a simple and very
effective way to explain internal motivation to my students
of all ages, even to the very youngest ones.
More of Kerry’s post are available at
I am a consultant in Early childhood Education in Chennai,
Tamil Nadu, India. I have been reading and sharing your
newsletters with many teachers. They have helped me a great
deal to guide teachers in improving discipline and classroom