Beyond Discipline Caroline Howsden


Kohn, Alfie. Beyond discipline: from compliance to community. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2008. Print.

"Sit down and shut up"

Assertive Discipline: the overriding goal to get students to do whatever they are told without question.

Teachers are encouraged to remove anyone who misbehaves because this will give back the control of the classroom.

Assertive Discipline, in the long run, not found to be very effective.

"Be seated and refrain from talking"

These systems accept that it is desirable, if not necessary, for teachers to be in control of their classrooms.

Issues; how benevolent that controller will be and how respectfully he/she will get and maintain the control.

Some discipline practitioners shy away from explicit talk of compliance. Their language is nicer and their techniques more tender but all in all their methods are still woven from the same cloth.

"The problem with compliance"

We want children to continue reading and thinking after school has ended, but still focus attention on grades, which have shown to reduce interest in learning.

Desirable outcomes are harder to achieve if we rely on bribes and threats.

"Making moral meaning"

One way to about compliance is to say that the goal is to get children to learn "appropriate" behavior.

Children, like adults, not clay to be molded, but active meaning makers, testing theories and trying to make sense of them.

The only way to help students become ethical people is to have them construct moral meaning. It is to help them figure out how one ought to act.

"Behaviors vs. people"

The developer of one New Discipline program has described its goal as getting students to "choose appropriate behaviors."

The message of praise is: I approve of what you did, so you should do it again. It is a way of reinforcing the act.

"Beyond Rules"

Much is made of the need to spell out these rules in advance , in order to provide "predictability".

Some classroom management programs now suggest bringing students in on the rule-making process.

Some teachers have more on their minds than getting kids to obey: they genuinely want to create a classroom where students are respectful of one another.

"The value of conflict"

Conflict sometimes takes forms that are patently destructive and must be stopped, to ensure the safety of participants.

If 2 children are fussing with each other, the constructivist tries to resist the temptation to silence them or separate them. The conflict is the lesson, or can be if the teacher doesn't take over and solve the problem.

"What exactly is construed as a problem here, and why?"

It means changing from eliciting conformity and ending conflict to helping students become active participants in their own social and ethical development.

"Why students should have a say"

Children are not just adults-in-the-making, they are people whose current needs and rights and experiences must be taken seriously.

The ought to be able to make choices because people of any age ought to have a say in what happens to them.

A benefit to giving them say is that it will make them more likely to do what we want. Choice promotes compliance and minimized misbehavior.

Kids tend to be more respectful when their need to make decisions is respected.

Another reason to let students choose is to help each of them become self-disciplined.

"stucture vs. control"

Criteria for determining how defensible a given structure or limit is-or conversely, how much it has begun to resemble control:




Developmental Appropriateness

Presentation Style

Student Involvement

"To meet needs, we need to meet"

This is the place for sharing

This is the place for deciding

This is the place for planning

This is the place fro reflecting

"meetings for better or worse"

The most common, and persistent, question faced by teachers who run class meetings is when to speak and when to shut up, when to pose a question or offer an observation and when to let the students do it themselves.

"reflections on decision making"

It is good to give students that chance to pick their favorite option from a list of possibilities. It is better when they can sometimes generate the possibilities.

Voting: it is better when they are encouraged to hash out a consensus together or reach a compromise.

It is good when class meetings provide a chance for students to come together and make decisions. It's even better on a schoolwide basis.

It can take the mind and heart a while to cope with freedom after having been expected to do what one is told. The following can be expected.

Acting out


Outright resistance



"why community"

What is a community? It is a place where students feel cared about and are encouraged to care about each other. The experience a sense of being valued and respected. They are of part of an "us".

"objections to community"

If we want to help children grow into compassionate people, we have to help them change the way the classroom works and feels, not just the way each separate member of the class acts.

We have to transform not just individuals but educational structures.

"building a community: prerequisites"

A real or authentic community doesn't feel empty. It is constructed over time by people with a common purpose who come to know and trust each other.

Three essential prerequisites for helping build a community.

First, time. Second, few in number. Third, a teacher who is part of a community of adults in the school.

"building a community: strategies"

The pursuit of safety in particular, or community more generally, is a project best pursued on four levels at once:

Relationship with adults

Connection between students

Classwide and schoolwide activities

Using academic instruction


I learned..

I learned from this 1/3 of the book that there are different ways to address your students when it comes to their behavior. I learned that letting your students make their own choices and cause them to have more trust and respect in you as a teacher. I learned that you should let your students settle their own conflict, unless it's going to cause harm to anyone else. I also learned that class meeting can be very beneficial to not only classrooms but to schools at large. I learned that creating a safe community in the classroom can also cause a safety between your students.

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