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Assertive Discipline Information


Dr. Bob Kizlik

Updated March13, 2014

How teachers view their roles in helping to prepare students to be productive citizens is in part a reflection of their own values, as well as beliefs about behavior, and the rewards and consequences associated with those roles. Without absolutely putting the reader to sleep with all the theoretical arguments and opinions about how behavior is best managed in a classroom, this page will focus on one of the most widely used, yet very controversial systems - assertive discipline. What follows is a brief synopsis of assertive discipline, an opposing point of view, and then, of course, some links to sites on the Internet where you can find more information. For what more could you ask?

The name most associated with assertive discipline is Lee Canter. He maintains that the key to this technique is catching students being "good," recognizing and supporting them when they behave appropriately, and on a consistent basis letting them know you like what they are doing. For Canter, students obey the rules because they get something out of doing so, or conversely, understand the consequences of breaking the rules. Assertive discipline in some form is likely the most widely used discipline plan in schools. Teachers who use assertive discipline say they like it because it is easy to use and is generally effective.

Assertive discipline is not without critics. One of the most interesting of these is John Covaleskie. His ideas about discipline are quite different from Canter's. These differences are important to understand, because they go to the heart of not just student behavior, but also to what schooling is for in the first place. Covaleskie believes that the very simplicity of assertive discipline is one of its biggest problems. He believes that children should obey the rules because that is the right thing to do, not because there is some reward associated with obeying, or some punishment for not obeying. The long term implications of rewarding behavior as suggested by the assertive discipline model are not yet well understood. To that end, the following links will take you to sites that advocate assertive discipline, provide examples of how it works and also to some sites that present contrarian points of view, which I always find to be most interesting about education opinion.

Assertive Discipline A very well written description of Assertive Discipline with useful links to other informative sites.
Caswell School. Some practical examples of assertive discipline in practice.
Southeastern Louisiana State University. A paper on assertive discipline, self-esteem, etc. This is filled with specific references that you might find helpful for further study.
The Canter and Jones Models. The Canter Model: Assertively Taking Charge and The Fred Jones Model:
Body Language, Incentive Systems, and Providing Efficient Help.
Discipline by Design: The Honor Level System.  A List of resources and information for a time-tested system. Recommended by an ADPRIMA visitor.
Dewey, Discipline, and Democracy by John Covaleskie. A serious, interesting essay, grounded in philosophy. It is well worth reading.
Ferndale Woods Elementary School . This is an online parent-student handbook. It will give you some idea of how this particular elementary school uses assertive discipline in an effective way.
Schoolwide and Classroom Discipline. From the Northwest Regional Laboratory, an interesting essay on this topic with many references to book and articles for the researcher.

Enough Already! The links above are enough to get you started. If you want to dig further, use any major search engine and enter "assertive discipline," or "Canter," or "Covaleskie." You'll find a wealth of information out there. Your job is to figure out what is relevant, reliable, and useful for your purposes. Good luck.

If you come upon a good resource on assertive discipline, or opposing views, please let me know. I'm always interested in such things for the ADPRIMA site and will include them on this page.

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