Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – February 2004

Volume 4 Number 2 


 1. Welcome

  2. Promoting Responsibility

  3. Increasing Effectiveness

  4. Improving Relationships

  5. Your Questions Answered

  6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System:

    Free Mailring

    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:bspellman@pdkintl.org.


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

than domination.


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.


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



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

drive him.”

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

about the





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

our options.

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

about the




Learning a procedure to

respond appropriately to impulses is described on the Impulse Management link at