Two Opposing Schools of Thought on Human Behavior

© Chart by Terry Chadsey and Jody McVittie


Dominant and Traditional Practice in American Schools

The Democratic (Solution Focused) Approach

Theory based on:

Common practice

Pavlov, Thorndike, Skinner

Adler, Dreikurs, Dewey, Glasser, Nelsen, Lott, Dinkmeyer, Albert
Behavior is motivated by:
People respond to rewards and punishments in their environment.
People seek a sense of belonging (connection) and significance (meaning) in their social context.
We have most influence on the behavior of others:
At the moment of response to a specific behavior.
In an ongoing relationship founded on mutual respect.
The most powerful tools for adults are:
Control, rewards, and punishments
Empathy, understanding the perspective of the student, encouragement, collaborative problem solving, kind AND firm follow through.
"Respect" is:

Obedience and compliance in relationships in which dignity and respect of the adult is primary

Mutual, in relationships in which each person is equally worthy of dignity and respect.
"Appropriate" response to inappropriate behavior:
Censure, isolation, punishment
Naming without shaming and blaming, identifying the belief behind the behavior, focus on solutions, follow through.
"Appropriate" response to dangerous and destructive behavior:
Censure, isolation, punishment
Maintaining safety for all, holding the student accountable for their action, followed, at a later time, by solution focused planning and clear follow through.
Student learning is maximized when:
The adult has effective control over student behavior.
The student feels belonging and significance in the classroom.