Volume 2 Number 7
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Your Questions Answered
6. Teachers.net: PROMOTING LEARNING:
Reflections from last year–working with teachers and schools
from Los Angeles to New York City
7. The Shortcomings of Punishments and Rewards
– Tips for Parents
8. What Others Are Saying about the Book:
“DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS, PUNISHMENTS or REWARDS
How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”
My wife and I have lived in
the same house since 1968. We have seen children grow, move, become married, and
visit their parents now with their own children. We have also welcomed new
neighbors and seen a new generation of children grow.
Yet, I can’t say that I ever
really knew many in our neighborhood–perhaps with the exception of my immediate
neighbors. A few years ago, a newly arrived family decided to hold a Christmas
party and invite the neighbors. That one party was the beginning of community.
We now hold neighborhood parties five times a year.
On Thursday of last week,
the street was blocked off (with a police permit), and the entire block
participated in a neighborhood chili cook-off, barbecue, and 4th of July
Later this evening, my wife
and I will be spending some time with a newly arrived couple–eight houses away
and across the street.
As in so many things in
life, it only took one person’s initiative to start. Thank you Jackie Fritz.
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
A man drove on a long and
lonely unpaved road in Arizona on his way to watch Hopi Indian ceremonial
dances. Afterwards, he returned to his car only to find that it had a flat tire.
He replaced it with the spare and drove to the only service station on the Hopi
As he stepped out of his
car, he heard the hissing of another tire going flat.
“Do you fix flats?” he
inquired of the attendant.
“Yes,” came the answer.
“How much do you charge?” he
With a twinkle in his eye,
the man replied, “What difference does it make?”
This is what is called a
“Hobson’s Choice,” named after Thomas Hobson (1544-1631) of Cambridge, England.
Hobson kept a livery stable and required every customer to take either the horse
nearest the stable door or none at all.
In essence, a Hobson’s
choice is a situation that forces a person to accept whatever is offered–or do
The most famous of Hobson’s
choices was made in 1914 when Henry Ford offered the very popular Model
T–making it available in any color so long as it was black.
Most of the time we really
do have a choice–even when we say we don’t. We may think we have to do such and
such. When we realize that MOST of what we do is by choice, then we become more
Here is an experiment. For
the next 48 hours, eliminate the words, “I have to” and substitute the words, “I
choose to.” Instead of saying, “I have to get out of bed,” make your self-talk,
“I choose to get out of bed.”
There is very little in life
we HAVE to do. The way you spend your time is your choice. You set the
priorities. You are responsible. You have control. Try the experiment for two
days. Obviously, it’s your choice. If you do this little exercise, almost
immediately you will feel less helpless and more in charge of your life.
Being aware that options are
always available not only puts us in control but makes our life happier and more
fulfilling. We become more responsible when we recognize that very rarely are
our choices limited to a Hobson’s choice. As the sage stated, “Destiny is as
much a matter of choice as one of chance.”
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
Jim Cathcart (author of
RELATIONSHIP SELLING and the ACORN PRINCIPLE and a sought-after international
speaker) relates how he worked in the mountains in Arkansas repossessing
vehicles when the payments were not made on the loan.
Needless to say, he–and
what he was about to do–were not welcomed by the mountain men. As Jim would be
ushered off the property, he would say, “OK, I’m leaving.” Then he added, “But
look out for the guy who comes next time.”
“What do you mean?” would be
the response. Jim then would describe that, since he was not successful in
getting any money towards the payment of the loan, the guy who would come
collecting next was twice his size and not nearly so nice and likely to be
accompanied by the sheriff.
Somehow Jim would always get
some money toward payment of the loan.
When he moved up the company
ladder, his replacement was a veteran of the Marine Corps. A noncoercive
approach is not the hallmark of these warriors. The former marine used the same
tactics his drill instructors had used on him. Predictably, he met with
resistance every time.
In fact, Jim’s replacement
landed in the hospital for an extended stay only ten days after he was on the
Why did Jim succeed staying
in good health and always reaching his objective of collecting some money while
his successor was unsuccessful in both? The reason is that Jim behaved as a
partner in problem solving and his replacement behaved as a “persuader.”
Need I explain the
difference between a noncoercive vs. a coercive approach?
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
Listening is the single most
important of all communications skills. It is more important than stirring
oratory, more important than a powerful voice, more important than the ability
to speak multiple languages–more important than a flair for the written word.
Good listening is truly
where effective communications and relationships begin. It’s surprising how few
people really listen well. Those who do are the ones who have learned the SKILL
The simple truth of the
matter is that people love being listened to. It’s true in the business world.
It’s true at home. It’s true of just about everyone we come across in life.
Dale Carnegie wrote that the
secret of influencing people lies not so much in being a good talker as in being
a good listener. Most people who try to win others to their way of thinking do
too much talking themselves.
To improve relationships–as
well as your effectiveness– encourage the other person to talk by asking
questions. Let the person share with you. If you disagree with them, you may be
tempted to interrupt. Don’t. You will have your chance to share your ideas.
Listen patiently and with an open mind. Be sincere. Encourage the person to
express his or her ideas. Be supportive rather than listening with an agenda.
The person will never
forget. And you will learn a thing or two.
5. YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
My son’s attitude about
school is that he only wants to get by with the minimum. He’ll do his homework
and then doesn’t bother to hand it in. His teachers say he’s intelligent, but
he’s failing three classes. Last year he had the same problem, failing two
From other statements you
have related to me, you are trying to control him. His not doing what you tell
him to do gives HIM control. It is his way of exercising power. He won’t change
if you keep telling him what to do, if you keep evaluating and advising him.
William Glasser, M.D., in
his most recent book, “UNHAPPY TEENAGERS – A Way for Parents and Teachers to
Reach Them” (William Glasser Institute – 800.899.0688) shares a dialog:
“What do most people do when
you try to control them?”
“What happens to the
relationship between them and the people they
are trying to control?”
“It harms it.”
“It’s like a contest.
Teenagers do it with parents all the time.” (pp. 106-107)
Your son is doing his
homework to get away from coercive nagging. Since the homework is not in his
“quality world,” he forgets to bring it to school. Develop a procedure, such as
placing a clipboard by the door. He completes a checklist of what he needs for
school and places it on the clipboard. No more reminding.
His intelligence may have
nothing to do with the “verbal-linguistic” and “logical-mathematical” abilities
that most schooling rely on for grades. Schools generally test for information
and knowledge. They rarely assess comprehension (meanings), application (using
what has been learned), analysis (breaking down material so that organizational
structure is understood), synthesis (putting parts together–creativeness), or
Assuming that you have
checked his hearing and vision and they are normal, encourage him to become
aware of inattentiveness in his classes. Have him keep a record for each class
by dating a paper and making a mark each time his attention wanders during class
time. Keeping a record will help him become aware and focus better. The more
attention he pays and the more he participates in his lessons, the more
motivated he will become.
Jim Cathcart has written a
book entitled, “The Acorn Principle,” wherein he argues that an acorn is capable
of becoming a mighty oak, but it will never become a giant redwood–no matter
how much you push it. His point is to discover your child’s nature and then
nurture that nature.
Discover what your son
enjoys or believes he is good at. Nurture that interest. Your relations with him
will dramatically improve. The most effective way to have discussions with a
young lad is for both of you to engage in some physical activity–walking,
hiking, play catch, etc. Increase your listening and decrease your telling him
what YOU want.
Once he FEELS and BELIEVES
that you are more interested in HIM AS A PERSON, instead of his good grades or
success in school, you will be amazed at how much academic success he will
6. TEACHERS NET: PROMOTING LEARNING:
Reflections from last year–working with teachers and schools from Los Angeles to New York City
My PROMOTING LEARNING
article on <teachers.net/gazette> for this month are reflections from the
academic year 2001-2002. The reflections eminated from my working with teachers
and schools across the country–from Los Angeles to schools in Upper Manhattan
and Harlem in New York City.
7. THE SHORTCOMINGS OF PUNISHMENTS AND REWARDS and Tips for Parents
The shortcomings of using
coercive and manipulative approaches–such as punishments and rewards to
manipulate behavior and telling people what to do–are described at:
The first link is a
one-pager of “Tips for Parents.”
8. WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE BOOK:
“DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS, PUNISHMENTS OR REWARDS
How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”s
“This brilliant work should
be required reading for every parent and teacher. If everyone applied these
practical techniques, we could build a truly wonderful future for our society.”
Steve Kaye, Ph.D.
Presentations on THE HUMAN SIDE OF BUSINESS
DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS,
PUNISHMENTS OR REWARDS is carried by: National Association of Elementary School
Principals National Association of Secondary School Principals National School
Boards Association Phi Delta Kappa International Performance Learning Systems
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