Why Programs Can’t Fix Discipline Problems

Every few years a new program aimed at improving behavior and learning while reducing discipline problems is introduced and becomes the silver bullet for “fixing” schools. For example, at one time open classrooms were the magic cure-all. Next, large group lectures, small group discussions, and independent study were the “fix” for high schools. Then “Teaching by Objectives” was the rage. Where are these programs now?

A current fashion is Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS or PBS), based on the old Skinnerian erroneous premise that rewarding desired behavior externally is the most effective way to reinforce the behavior and cure discipline issues. PBIS is an outgrowth of working with students who have special needs and where something tangible is used for reinforcement. But when a youngster has done what was expected and anticipates receiving the reward—but doesn’t—the youngster is “punished by rewards.” Most significantly, behaviorism neglects any mental processes. Its entire approach is EXTERNAL. Yet all behavior and learning require motivation—something that by its very nature is an INTERNAL characteristic.

Both successful parenting and successful teaching rest with PEOPLE rather than with programs. Two reasons for the success of Discipline without Stress and Parenting without Stress are that they build people skills and are TOTALLY NONCOERCIVE (although not permissive).