‘Discipline with Dignity’: Quotes

The book was written by Richard L. CurwinAllen N. MendlerBrian D. Mendler and I read the fourth edition which is usually a good sign: plenty of readers are there to buy the book over and over again.

Thoughts on the book

As stated in the title, the focus is on the discipline topics but with a twist – work on it in a way that you don’t make your students feel humiliated or looked down at. Certainly. the books one decides to read are rarely going against the views, so there is no surprise that I ended up reading this text. Not just reading, but on every second-page thinking ‘Oh, I totally agree!” or “Yes, I do the same”. Do not take the text as something to follow word by word, most likely it would be too awkward or strange in your context (as it would in mine), but the big ideas, and the messages to pass are spot on.

Certainly, I cannot say that my experience is that wide, deep and goes through years and years, but somehow it always worked out. Probably, because it meets the basic need to be recognised as a person and to be respected. I am sure that it works for all ages, but for High school, it must be the starting and finishing point.

thank you, unknown person, who took a beautiful picture of the book
I will not retell the book but will keep here the quotes from it:
  • Neil Postman once wrote that “kids have built-in crap detectors.”
  • The expectation that students will change long-standing habits on demand is part of the problem.

[this should go in huge letters in a bright colour and repeated every now and then]

Treating students with dignity means we stay calm when things around us get crazy.
  • meaningful punishment as a process of discussion, negotiation, and agreement (DNA).
  • Starting fresh every day keeps optimism intact.
  • what happened yesterday can be informative but cannot be changed. Look forward.
  • academic competition is different from the real-life competition. In life, people get a chance to compete in a field, a profession, or an industry they choose. If unsuccessful, they can switch.
  • “Good” students get increased opportunities to learn social skills and feel wanted, while “bad” students rarely get the experience needed to improve behaviour. Most just feel left out.
  • To do nothing is better than to try and fail. And to be recognized as a troublemaker is better than being seen as stupid.”

obedient student as one who follows rules without question, regardless of philosophical beliefs, ideas of right and wrong, instincts and experiences, or values. A student “does it” because he is told to do it.

Obedience is implemented primarily with threats, punishments, and rewards (bribes).

Threat Versus Choice

This is how we define “true choice.” Both scenarios have negative alternatives to select from yet are different because of who has control. Giving students control—even when the choices are unpleasant—is really the key. Do the options presented require actual decision making?
  • Sometimes it is hard to tell whether a threat is really a choice. Frequently what the teacher may initially view as a punishment is actually a legitimate choice in the eyes of the student. Some students are content to choose the alternative that the teacher prefers he avoid. For example, “Do your work now or during lunch” can go either way. If the student likes doing work at lunchtime, he will pick that alternative. The teacher must be comfortable with both choices offered.
  • Phrases such as “I didn’t do it,” “She started it,” and “It wasn’t my fault” are symptomatic of excessive punishment.
  • When punishment is effective, the behavior change is immediate. Unfortunately, this effect rarely lasts and often leads to long-term problems.
  • Don’t take away privileges once offered (so be careful what you offer). Don’t include loss of privileges as a threat. Don’t arbitrarily include loss of privileges as a punishment.
  • Students learn very quickly that a reward means “I’m being asked to do something I don’t want to do.
  • Although the economy might restrict many possible choices, workers still do not have to take a job if they choose not to. Students, on the other hand, cannot choose a different teacher if they don’t want to behave the way a particular teacher wants them to.

If it is that hard for adults to change when they want to, how hard must it be to get children to change when they don’t want to?

  • In general, the driving forces of inappropriate behaviours are the unfulfilled needs for attention, connection, identity, competence, control, and fun.
  • If what you’re doing isn’t working, consider a change in attitude, strategy, or both to push beyond your comfort zone and possibly gain a better outcome.
  • when we say the task is easy, students feel little pride in accomplishing

Loyalty is built by telling the truth even when it’s hard to do so, by respectfully disagreeing when they are wrong and refusing to give up on them when they quit on themselves. Most important, loyalty is built by standing with people when things are not going well.

  • Troubled schools are those with rules that go unenforced and consequences that cause more behaviour problems in the future by not addressing the real reasons for the misbehaviour.
  • Be careful not to confuse consequences with punishments. Punishments, unlike consequences, are done to the student, not to help the student. Punishments are intended to inflict misery
  • In reality, when dealing with the most difficult students, it is impossible to punish them more than life itself already has, which is why punishment is so rarely effective.
  • If a student believes that something else will work better, go along if the idea seems sensible.

It is extremely important to teach and explain to your students that “fair” and “equal” can but do not have to mean the same thing.

In school, the word fair should be defined as “Each student gets what he or she needs to be successful and act in a more responsible way.”

  • Let the student get the last word. He needs it to save face with the people he eats lunch with and rides the bus with.
  • Students have no control over their achievement, but they can control how much effort they put forth to achieve.
  • One way to know if they are putting forth effort is to compare their current work and behaviour with their previous work and behaviour.
  • Unhealthy teacher responses to stress often fall into one of four categories: the Conflict Avoider, the Muscle Flexer, the Marine Sergeant, and the Guilt Giver.
  • You should not use rating cards publicly.

Staying personally connected to children means … I will not give up on you. I will not quit on you. I will not lose control with you. I will not yell at you unless I believe it is necessary for you to hear. I will reframe my feelings of anger. I will always be here no matter what. Because I am a teacher and my job is to show you a better way, I will not take personally what you do or say when I do not like it.