Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – September 2002

Volume 2 Number 9 


 1. Welcome

 2. Promoting Responsibility

 3. Increasing Effectiveness

 4. Improving Relationships

 5. Your Questions Answered

 6. Teachers.net: PROMOTING LEARNING

    The Power of Hierarchies – What They Are and What They Do

 7. The Shortcomings of Punishments and Rewards – Tips for Parents

 8. What Gordon Cawelti, Educational Research Service, and

    former Executive Director, Association for Supervision and

    Curriculum Development (ASCD), says about the Book:



The U.S.A. has long been privileged to have

peace as our normal

state of affairs.

This month marks the first anniversary of the attack on our

continental homeland–striking at the symbol of capitalism and

commerce (World Trade Centers) and the symbol of our defense

(Pentagon). Although the terrorism has prompted immense sadness,

hopefully it will prompt us to be wiser.

We often look at a person’s motivation to justify action. One’s

motivation, however, is no excuse for destructive behavior.

Look on the backside of an American dollar bill. On the right

side, you will see the great seal of the United States of

America. If you take a close look at the seal, you will see the

motto of our country on the banner: E PLURIBUS UNUM–out of many,


Notice that above the eagle’s head are 13 stars representing the

original 13 states. Notice that the shield in front of the eagle

has 13 stripes representing the 13 original states. Look at the

13 leaves in the branch of peace in the eagle’s right talon–and

then the 13 arrows in its left.

Notice that the eagle is facing toward peace.

We are a peaceful nation but must recognize that people ought to

be judged on their behavior–not their motivation.


A man pulled into a gas station on the

outskirts of town. As he

filled his tank, he remarked to the attendant, “I’ve just

accepted a job in town. I’ve never been to this part of the

country. What are people like here?

“What are people like where you came from?” the attendant asked.

“Not so nice,” the man replied. “In fact, they can be quite


The attendant shook his head. “Well, I’m afraid you’ll find the

people in this town to be the same way.”

Just then another car pulled into the station. “Excuse me,” the

driver called out. “I’m on my way into town. I’m just moving to

the area. Is it nice here?”

“Was it nice where you came from?” the attendant inquired.

“Oh yes! I came from a great place. The people were friendly,

and I hated to leave.”

“Well, you’ll find the same true of this town.”

I travel to New York City once a month were I

work with schools

in Upper Manhattan and Harlem. Before I started to travel to

the Big Apple on a regular basis two years ago, I had heard that

people there were rude, abrupt, and not very friendly.

You probably know by now that my neural connections have been

established to the point that before I react, I reflect: “How can

I turn this into a positive?”

I find New Yorkers friendly, conversational, and delightful.

Myron Tribus, a renowned expert on improving quality, put it

aptly when he said, “There is no such thing as immaculate

perception. What you see depends upon what you thought before

you looked.


A key strategy in influencing others is to be a

good listener.

But there is a paradox to this skill because in order to have

influence with another, the influencer needs to be influenced.

Simply stated, the more a person is open to others, the greater

is the ability to influence them.

Listening can also refer to oneself. Warren Buffett, the ace

stock picker and empire builder, gives credit to his partner,

Charlie Munger, for the Orangutan Theory:

          If a smart person goes

into a room with an orangutan and

          explains whatever his or

her idea is, the orangutan just

          sits there eating his

banana, and at the end of the

          conversation, the person

explaining comes out smarter..


The idea of communicating a caring interest to

those with whom

we work was first documented in a classic study on human

relations and is known as the “Hawthorne Effect.” It emanated

from a study that took place in the late 1920’s at Western

Electric’s Hawthorne plant near Chicago.

Researchers went into the factory to see if, by increasing room

lighting for a group of employees, the productivity would

increase. Improvements did indeed seem to boost worker output.

But much to their surprise, when the researchers analyzed a

comparable group with no change in the lighting, the productivity

also improved.

Further study and analysis of this puzzling result showed that

productivity increased because the workers were delighted that

management was showing some kind of interest in them. The very

fact that workers knew they were receiving attention motivated

them to try to improve. The workers felt that management cared

about them and that they were valued.

Similarly, any person, regardless of age, who feels valued reaps

the benefit of the Hawthorne Effect.



I recently read your book and I plan to try it this year with my

3rd graders.

Previously, I taught 6th grade and used an assertive discipline

system. I teach in a Success for All school which requires

teachers to award team points for appropriate behavior. Students

are rewarded based on the number of points their team earns each

week. How do you think the Raise Responsibility System will work

if I have to give rewards for expected behaviors?

Thank you for your help!


First, a comment about assertive discipline: As you may have

discovered, a fundamental characteristic of this coercive

approach is to overpower when the student does not obey. The

RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM is 180 degrees in the opposite

direction. It sets up expectations and then prompts youngsters to


This approach separates a good person from inappropriate

behavior. Because of the separation, the person does not have to

self-defend, thereby creating a safe atmosphere. Because students

understand that the objective is to have them become more

responsible, rather than to change them, it is easy for a student

to admit to an inappropriate behavior–and change it.

The system is based on the simple truth that you cannot change

another person. People change themselves, and the most effective

way to influence a person to change behavior is to get them to

WANT to change. The most effective way to do this is though a

noncoercive approach.

Regarding “Success for All,” continue to do

what the program asks


Once you explain the difference between level C, external

motivation, and level D, internal motivation, students quickly

realize that external rewards are used to reinforce desired

behavior–and they begin to realize that it is manipulative. No

one likes being manipulated–not even young kids.

Once students reach this realization, many lose interest in the

external reward. They realize that the feelings of success

leading to increased self-esteem are more satisfying than any

external reinforcer.

Let the students decide. For those who want to continue receiving

rewards, give it to them. For those students who tell you not to,

follow their wishes.

Regarding working in teams, once you have

established the synergy

of students working in collaboration–rather than in competition

–quality of learning will dramatically increase. Friendly

rivalry for short periods is fun. If learning is based on

competition on a regular basis, however, it is counterproductive.

The epilogue in my book shows how educational leaders have lost

faith in their own leadership and have been led by business and

government leaders to use a business model for learning.

Using a model of accountability and inducing competition for

learning by comparing test scores (as if all learning can be

quantified) is counterproductive. The comic strip character,

Dagwood Bumstead, eloquently described this approach when he

said, “You know, that makes a lot of sense if you don’t think

about it.”

You will be amazed at how your youngsters will do what you want

if you have good classroom management (teach procedures for

everything you want them to do) and then teach the hierarchy of

social development.


   The Power of Hierarchies – What They Are and What They Do


<teachers.net/gazette> for this

month is about the power of hierarchies–not only what they are

but what they do.

The article is at:



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.”



   How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”

“For those teachers and school leaders who want

to get serious

about improving student achievement, this book will be very

helpful. Its attention to classroom management skills, motivating

students, and establishing a positive relationship with students

are key ingredients to ensuring that students aspire to great

things starting with academic accomplishment.”

Gordon Cawelti, Educational Research Service and

Former Executive Director,

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

A descriptive table of contents, three selected sections, and

additional items of interest are posted at: