Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – January 2002

Volume 2 Number 1 


 1. Welcome

 2. Promoting Responsibility

 3. Increasing Effectiveness

 4. Improving Relationships

 5. Teachers.Net: Promoting Learning:


Combining Positivity, Choice, and Reflection

 6. Your Questions Answered

 7. Public Seminars

 8. What Others Are Saying About The Book
 How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”


My travels regularly take me

to New York where I am working with four schools in upper Manhattan and Harlem.

At a recent meeting of representatives from the schools, a very interesting

comment was made. A representative said that her school did not have major

discipline problems. The concern of the school had to do with the social skills

and responsibility that students would carry with them when they left the

school, i.e., the influence the school would have on them in their futures.

The comment struck a very tender spot with me–one that

brought to mind how I got started and why I am doing what I do.

I returned to the classroom after 24 years in school

counseling, supervision, and administration–looking forward to the joy of

teaching. The prime factor that struck me more than any other in my observation

of students was that so many of the current generation lacked the sense of

responsibility of former generations. This prompted me to develop a system for

promoting responsibility and led to the publication of my first book, “FOSTERING

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY,” published by Phi Delta Kappa.

I used what I had gained from my experiences in teaching

at all levels, as well as my counseling experiences and what I had learned as an

elementary school principal, middle school administrator, and high school


They can be reduced to three principles: (1) People act

better when they feel better. (2) People are empowered when given choices. (3)

No one can change another person. A person CAN CONTROL another person but CANNOT

CHANGE another person. People change themselves.

I also knew that, from my former teaching experiences, I

had to teach procedures for everything that I wanted my students to do well. I

knew that teaching procedures is proactive and is absolutely necessary for good

classroom management. That being the case, I thought, why not use a PROactive

approach–rather than a REactive approach–for discipline? Why wait until a

student misbehaves and then REACT? Why not use Stephen Covey’s first habit of

highly effective people? Be PR0ACTIVE; TEACH first.

This was the beginning of the “RAISE RESPONSIBILITY

SYSTEM” now used in schools across the country. I did not set out to develop a

discipline program. I set out to raise the level of social and individual

responsibility of my students. Here is what I discovered. With today’s youth, if

you teach toward obedience, you will face resistance, rebellion, and

defiance–more often than you care to.

However, if you aim at and foster responsibility, you

will get obedience as a natural by-product.

After developing my simple program, discipline problems

disappeared, my stress was reduced, and I truly regained the joy of classroom

teaching. All I did was (1) TEACH four levels of social development, (2) hone my

skills of asking reflective questions (already set up because the levels are a

benchmark for reflection), and (3) with some students learn how to use authority

without being punitive.

My 2002 wish for teachers is to reflect on the best path

to take your students–towards obedience or towards responsibility. I have

learned that the former does not naturally transfer to the latter.


Years ago

my family and I took the cog railway up to Pike’s Peak,

just outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cartographers named the peak after

Zebulon Pike, who first reported the 14,110 foot peak in 1806. The view of the

majestic purple mountain range was so inspiring that I easily understood why the

view prompted a Massachusetts teacher to compose a poem.

Since the singing of its first stanza has recently

resounded across the nation, you may enjoy the poem written by Katherine Lee

Bates in its entirety.

Notice that the second verse is about self-control, a

key factor in both national and individual responsible behaviors.


by Katharine Lee Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies

For amber waves of grain

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet

Whose stern impassioned stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America!

God mend thine every flaw

Confirm thy soul in self-control

Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved

In liberating strife

Who more than self the country loved

And mercy more than life!

America! America!

May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness

And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam

Undimmed by human tears!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies

For amber waves of grain

For purple mountain majesties

Above the enameled plain!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

Till souls wax fair as earth and air

And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet

Whose stern impassioned stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

Till paths be wrought through

Wilds of thought

By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale

Of liberating strife

When once and twice

for man’s avail

Men lavished precious life!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

Till selfish gain no longer stain

The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam

Undimmed by human tears!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

Till nobler men keep once again

Thy whiter jubilee!


Instead of thinking of the right thing to say, think of a

reflective question to ask.

The sooner you inculcate the mode of asking reflective

questions –instead of telling–the less stressful it will be for you, and the

more successful you will become.

Reflective questions prompt evaluation of the person’s

own behavior. An example to a young person is, “In the long run, is what you are

doing in your own best interests?”

If the question is evaded, ask a second time.

Follow up with another question that stimulates thinking

such as, “If what you are doing is not getting you what you want, what could you

do differently?”

If he says he doesn’t know, then you could ask, “What

would an extraordinary person do in this situation?”


I was brought up on a principle my mother instilled in me,

namely, “If you can’t say something nice about a person, then do not say

anything at all.” In other words, refrain from negativism.

The advice of my mother found itself the bedrock of my

first principle to reduce stress: POSITIVITY. I now think of it whenever

something negative pops into my head or if I am about to say something that can

be interpreted in a negative way. I immediately ask myself, “How can I say that

in positive way?”

In building and improving relationships, its opposite–

negativity–is the biggest enemy. You do not want it in your mind. You do not

want it in your house. You do not want it in your environment. You do not want

to express negativity to your associates, to those who may work for you, or to

your friends. You do not want anything to do with it. When you see it, turn it

around. If you can not turn it around, then you turn around and walk the other



My PROMOTING LEARNING article on for

January is an exercise combining positivity, choice, and reflection. It is a

wonderful beginning-of-the-year experience for students.



I have a few questions.

1.) The school I work in is very entrenched in the idea

that discipline EQUALS punishment. The students buy into

this idea in that they seem to depend on punitive

reactions from their teachers and parents. Teaching

students what you expect is simply not enough so far.

How does one help the child to move from being

punishment minded to being self-motivated if they don’t

buy into it?

2.) I have read several books that work with

similar ideas to yours. “Without Boundaries” by Janet

Wood, “The Continuum Concept” by Jean Liedloff, and

materials on Taking Children Seriously (an

educational/parenting/human relations theory). They make

a great deal of sense to me, but I am at a loss as to

how to implement this kind of teaching of right/wrong,

appropriate/ inappropriate behavior to the youngest of

children (birth to toddler). Most of us were raised in a

way that is very different from this approach, so

without a working model, it is difficult to put into

practice. I have done my best based on what I have read,

but still feel I could understand it better.


1) Share with the faculty the National Parent

Teachers Association’s definition of discipline:

“To many people, discipline means punishment.

But, actually, to discipline means to teach. Rather than

punishment, discipline should be a positive way of

helping and guiding

children to achieve self-control.” (Discipline:

A Parent’s Guide  -Copyright 1993 by the National


To do it, teach your students the four levels of

social development described in Chapter 3 of the book,

“Discipline without Stress, Punishments or Rewards.” A

quick description is on the site

http://www.MarvinMarshall.com. Click on the first

link, “Quick Summaries,” and scroll down to the second


Have the librarian order a copy of the book

(800.606.6105) and inform you when it arrives. Share the

section on motivation and punishments with others.

I will have a new site up later this month to

share concerns like yours. It will be a narrative about

using rewards, punishments, and telling people what to

do in attempts to change behaviors. It will also make


PUNITIVE. The universal resource locater (URL —

Internet address) will be in the newsletter next month.

2) The “Raise Responsibility System,” described

in Chapter 3 is what you are looking for. For youngsters

under 5 years old, Chapter 6 on parenting has specific




   Use the Language You Want Learned –

   “Responsibilities” rather than “Rules”

For Educators, Youth

Workers, and Parents



Promote Responsibility and Learning

SPONSOR: Staff Development Resources/

California Elementary Education Association.

Request a brochure for complete information by



Burbank, CA             

March 14

Ontario, CA             

March 15

Sacramento, CA          

March 19

South San Francisco, CA  March 20



“The strategies that Dr.

Marshall describes for developing humane, responsive, and responsible classrooms

are grounded in research AND good practice. They link classroom management

concerns to the more fundamental issues of how teachers can create powerful

curriculum, teaching, learning, and lasting motivation. I recommend this book to

anyone who wants to create a ‘right to learn’ in all classrooms.”

Linda Darling-Hammond, Ed.D., Professor of


Stanford University


Director, National Commission on Teaching and

America’s Future

Carried by:

National Association of Elementary School


National Association of Secondary School


National School Boards Association

Phi Delta Kappa International

Performance Learning Systems

The Brain Store