Beyond Discipline From Compliance to Community

Kohn, Alfie. (2006). Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community. Alexandra, Virginia: ASCD.

Chapter 1: Nature of Children:

  • Teachers "need to be on the lookout for profoundly negative theories about the motive and capabilities of children . . ."
  • One example of a theory that the book gives is the idea that children who has done something should be rewards always because if you stop rewarding the child the good behavior will stop.
  • Rudolf Dreikurs, an Austrian psychiatrist whose theories and techniques have played a big part in many discipline programs, believes that children have an unreasonable desire for attention and that is why things go wrong in the classroom.
  • Dreikurs second favorite explanation behind why children misbehave was due to the child's drive for superiority and power
  • A teacher's view on students and why they behave like they do can have a huge impact on how students actually act.

Chapter 2: Blaming the Kids

  • There are a slew of videos, books, and even workshops on how to discipline, but what one will not find with these is if what you want (in terms of behavior) is reasonable or not.
  • Some see misbehavior as only the child's fault and therefore the teacher must discipline them and try to teach them the error of their behavior.
  • Old School discipline: insists on punishing the liar
  • New School: suggests gentleness as we try to find out how to encourage the student to change his behavior
  • Both of the two above use blame on the student
  • Educators must remember that children do not always act out for attention. Some may just be bored.

Chapter 3: Bribes and Threats

  • Punishment and coercion are two popular ways to correct bad bahavior
  • Teachers must be careful not to create a system where we punish a student, the student becomes even more upset and acts out again, which means they get punished again. This creates a "need" to keep being punished.
  • Sometimes those offered an award for their work will do inferior work to those who are not promised a reward for their wirk
  • Teachers need to be careful not to create an air of competition when complimenting students. They must try to focus on the student and try not to lessen the praise by using the word "I"

Chapter 4: Punishment Lite: "Consequences" and Pseudochoice

  • "A growing number of educators are in the market, quite literally, for alternative to the coercive, traditional kind of discipline."
  • One key reason for this book is to question whether or not "New Discipline" ideas are truly different from what they are trying to replace.
  • Many New Discipline programs use rewards to control behavior
  • New Discipline main claim is that they do not use punishment
  • May use "logical consequences" which differ from punishment in three main ways: (1) Motivated by a desire to instruct (2)reasonable and respectful in their application (3) related to the act of the wrongdoer.
  • "A punishment does not change its essential nature merely because it is less harsh or invoked in a softer tone of voice." You can see if something is punitive by the look on a child's face
  • Ex: Child leaves toys out, mother hides them, when child asks where their toys are, mother lies and says she put them away and doesn't remember where right now

Chapter 5: How Not to Get Control of the Classroom

  • Jacob Kounin identified effectiveness as "conformity and obedience," meaning students didn't partake in "deviant" behavior and kept busy
  • Since Kounin, researchers found the most effective classroom management was "when long periods of students talk (recitations) were avoided. In other words, the teacher retained control over pacing"
  • The real problem the author has come to see "is the belief that the teacher should be the one in control of the classroom" and that that the primary principal has become to get students to comply
  • The best way to have students become moral people is to have the students construct moral meaning themselves.
  • "Some classroom management programs now suggest now bringing students in on the rule-making progress"
  • From a constructivist approach rules may be troubling because students may try to find loop holes, teachers become police officers, and rules come with a given consequence for breaking them
  • In a constructivist classroom, a teacher should allow some conflict (arguments). Granted there are times a child may just be trying to bait the teacher or waste time.

Chapter 6: A Classroom of their Choosing

  • "Axiom: Students learn how to make good choices by making choices, not by following directions"
  • "Corollary: Students will have little opportunity to do that kind of learning if teachers and administrators try to control or mange their behavior"
  • Students' opinions matter and should be invited to participate in formulating a solution
  • If we let students make decisions then eventually they may choose the behavior we want/prefer them to have
  • Letting students choose helps students become self-disciplined
  • Structure or control? (1) purpose: perhaps to keep children safe, (2) restrictiveness: the less restrictive the better, (3) flexibility: have structure, but be willing to make changes, (4) development appropriateness: winter clothing monitoring of 4 year old vs. 10 year old, (5) presentations style: the way a restriction/requirement is introduced can make a huge difference, (6) student involvement: the amount of input a student has
  • It is good when students get a vote in something and not just told what to do
  • Some students may resist going from total control to having a say in the following ways (1) Acting Out, (2) Testing, (3) Outright Resistance, (4) Silence, (5) Parroting

Credits:

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