Volume 4 Number 2
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Your Questions Answered
6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System:
Your Questions Answered
Impulse Management Posters and Cards
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Perhaps the most respected,
influential, and most cited journal in the field of education is the PHI DELTA
KAPPAN. The publisher, Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK, is an international
association whose mission is to promote high quality education, in particular
publicly supported education, as essential to the development and maintenance of
a democratic way of life. This mission is accomplished through leadership,
research, and service in education.
PDK has recently established a new category of membership designed to serve
non-educators–parents and others interested in education. Subscription to the
PHI DELTA KAPPAN is included in the membership.
If you are interested in keeping informed of educational practices, theories,
and controversies, you are invited to join Phi Delta Kappa International. For
information, contact Membership Director Billie Spellman at 800.766.1156 or
e-mail her at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
“USING A DISCIPLINE SYSTEM TO PROMOTE LEARNING” will be a featured article in
their March edition. The article is co-authored by Marv Marshall and Kerry
There is at the heart of the
concept of responsibility the beautiful idea that it is about response
(RESPONS-ability)– which means it always has to do with relationships.
Responsibility is inherently mutual. Jean-Jacque Rousseau stated it well when he
proclaimed that there is no meaning of responsibility that does not carry
Later this month I will be speaking at the conference of the National
Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and this idea will be the
thrust of my presentation.
So often we treat and confuse responsibility with obedience–as if
responsibility can be imposed. There is a failure in the structure of imposition
because it lacks mutuality. Although we think we give responsibility,
responsibility must be TAKEN if it is to be implemented–hence its mutuality.
Responsibility has a counterpart: accountability. One reason that people resist
imposed accountability is that the people at the top tell others what they are
accountable for but not what they, themselves, are accountable for.
If you expect someone to be responsible and therefore accountable for OPTIMAL
performance, then influence him or her to WANT to be so. An easy way to do this
is to tell the person in what ways YOU will be accountable.
If you are a leader, simply explain in what ways the other person can count on
you (safety, staying abreast of company policies, working environment–to name
just a few). If you are a school principal, inform the staff in what ways the
faculty can count on you (mutual respect, professional recognition, cooperative
evaluations, etc.). If you are a teacher, inform students in what ways they can
count on you (providing a classroom where students will WANT to spend their
time, planning on your part to present meaningful and important lessons,
engaging activities, etc). If you are a parent, the same applies (providing
food, shelter, a loving
relationship, someone to trust to protect their well-being, etc.)
To put the concept in easy-to-remember terms, collaboration is more effective
The amygdala (Greek for
almond) is composed of two almond-shaped emotional storage areas above the brain
stem. It developed before the thinking part of the brain developed and prompts
immediate reaction–the so-called “fight or flight” syndrome. As the amygdala
does not differentiate between physical or psychological threat, so the mind
often does not differentiate between fantasy and reality. You can tell yourself
almost anything you want and you can believe
it. Consequently, what you think has an effect upon how you feel.
Other people can sense your feelings and your mood. They can even sense your
feelings over the phone.
Whether you have a negative or a positive feeling while you are talking, the
other person can notice it. We detect emotions without a word being said. Think
of a time when you entered a room just after the people already in the room have
had an argument. You didn’t hear the argument, but you sensed it. What was the
first thing you wanted to do? The question became one–not of leaving–but of
how fast you could.
Whenever I want someone else to think/feel positive thoughts, I must experience
positivity first–with the knowledge that it becomes communicated before my
saying a word.
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
If you work to make your
spouse lose so you can win, then you need to ask yourself a question: Do you
really want to live with a loser?
W. Edwards Deming
5. YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
After a presentation in Bermuda on February 5, the question was asked me whether
I am a traditionalist or a progressive.
Interesting question! I had never been asked this before. It is a fascinating
question. Here is how I responded.
My guiding mission is to foster responsibility. This is the foundational
characteristic of those values and practices necessary for a civil, enlightened,
and democratic society. Therefore, if you desire to label me, you would call me
a traditionalist. But then consider the following.
W. Edwards Deming was the American who brought quality to manufacturing while
simultaneously reducing costs. The most prestigious manufacturing award given in
Japan is the Deming Award. Yet, Dr. Deming used a nontraditional approach
–collaboration, rather than domination.
In this regard, traditional approaches for promoting responsibility are not
successful enough with far too many young people today. Society has changed, but
we are still using former approaches that worked with former generations and
expect them to work with the current generation.
A tongue-in-cheek example of how society has changed is illustrated by the
youngster sitting in the back of the car with his knapsack packed while his
mother says to her neighbor, “He’s running away from home but expects me to
Every time I present to primary school teachers, someone comes up to me sharing
the frustration about the increasing numbers of youngsters entering kindergarten
with very little self-control and lower levels of social interaction skills.
Try to use coercive approaches with these young people –really any person today
regardless of age–and in return you will receive resistance, disrespect,
rebellion, and/or outright defiance.
Using traditional COERCIVE approaches with today’s youth to promote
responsibility and traditional values is simply not nearly so effective as using
NONCOERCIVE approaches. Is this being progressive?
The label is your choice.
6. Implementing the RAISE
You can share and learn more
RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM at
The Raise Responsibility System discipline approach is referred to as
simple-to-implement. I find that I continually have to be aware of being
positive, offering choices, and asking reflective-type questions. I wonder if
others also find using these three practices and implementation of the system
SIMPLE does not mean EASY
(at first). It is simple in that ONLY THREE principles–not a dozen or
so–need to be practiced. In addition, the Raise Responsibility System (RRS)
has only three parts–TEACHING the concepts, ASKING reflective questions,
and ELICITING a procedure to redirect impulses.
Learning how to drive an automobile is SIMPLE, but it only becomes EASY after
you have driven for awhile.
Deciding ahead of time not to eat dessert at a banquet may be SIMPLE. But when
the plates from the main course are removed and the cheesecake is placed in
front of you, your original decision may not be so EASY to implement.
When I first decided to run in the mornings–rather than in the evenings–I
found the decision quite SIMPLE. I set the alarm for an early morning rise.
As I had expected, the alarm rang early the next morning and I heard my
self-talk: “Getting up this early is crazy.” I went back to sleep. At the
time, I was a high school assistant principal with a student body of 3,200.
Since I was in charge of all student discipline as well as all co-curricular
activities, I would arrive home at various late hours. Knowing that if I
were to continue running regularly, the running would have to be done in the
mornings, so that evening I again set my alarm for an early morning rise. I
awoke and ran. That was years ago. I have never returned to running in the
evenings. My original decision was SIMPLE. Getting up earlier than I was
accustomed to was not EASY. Still today, I would not have it any other way.
At the end of a personal presentation of the RRS to a school or district,
people leave with three simple practices to implement and a simple system to
use. The implementation is up to them. I never say it is EASY. But I do
emphasize that the more they practice the principles and implement the
system, the easier it becomes, the more responsibility they will promote,
the more effective they will be, the more improved their relationships will
become, and the less
stress they will feel. And, they WILL see success from the beginning.
However, there must be conscious awareness in implementing the approaches (3
principles to practice and the 3 parts of the RRS). They ARE SIMPLE; but
it’s just not EASY to change approaches (read habits) and always be alert to
We don’t teach the Ten Commandments and then expect people to implement them
all their lives. The Commandments need to be regularly revisited.
We don’t practice a set of procedures one time and then expect them to be set
in place to run themselves. We’re dealing with humans–not machines–and
therefore constant awareness and practice are necessary. As we (or others)
practice, new neural connections are made and implementation does become
easier AND simpler.
People who reflect, evaluate, and are conscious of their practices are
engaging in one of life’s greatest joys–striving for improvement and
reaping the satisfactions that result.
On February 12, after
speaking to a school district in New Jersey, I asked the school principal (who
convinced the district to have me present) how she originally found out about
the Raise Responsibility System. She told me that she heard me at a conference
and asked someone who was assisting by passing out impulse management cards his
reaction to the program. That Arizona principal told her, “Those teachers who
implement the system are sad when school ends; those who do not are glad when
school is over.”
The New Jersey principal who heard about the RRRS has been implementing it for
the past one and one-half years and has convinced the entire district to try it.
You can share and learn more
RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM (RRS) at
IMPULSE MANAGEMENT POSTERS and CARDS
Learning a procedure to
respond appropriately to impulses is described on the Impulse Management link at