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Krista Milstead

March 22, 2016

EDUC 370

Ronald Morrishs Real Discipline Theory

Ronald Morrish has been an educator for over four decades. Morrish is also

known for being an author, speaker, and consultant on behavior and discipline. The

viewpoint that Morrish holds for being a good teacher has been quoted as, determining

what discipline means to you will determine the amount of success you have. Will you

teach good heavier, or punish bad? (Real Discipline,n.d., all) Morrish believes that

discipline should be established through purposeful teacher guidance. This means that

the teacher teaches the students exactly how they should behave (Charles, 2011, p.


Morrish is not a fan of traditional discipline in which the student is punished with

a, typically, undesirable consequence. He says that this approach is unsuccessful

because the student does not learn anything from the consequence, especially if they

decide that their punishment is not too extreme (Charles, 2011, p. 84). Two suggestions

made to turn this around is for teachers to teach students the difference between right

and wrong and how to comply with authority (Charles, 2011, p. 83). Morrishs approach

does both of these suggestions. This organized set of techniques teaches students to

be respectful, responsible, and cooperative (Charles, 2011, p. 85). Morris and Elliot

(1985) state that students are developing beings who need to be guided in life with the

information to come into adulthood successfully.

Real discipline, in short, is the discipline required to make children civilized and

respectable adults. This type of discipline is configured of different techniques that teach

the students to not only be respectful, cooperative, and responsible, but prepares them

to make their own good decisions as they approach adulthood. Real discipline is a

process, not an event, that is done so that students will not misbehave (Charles, 2011,

p.86). This discipline must be done in three parts to be effective: training for compliance,

teaching students how to behave, and managing student choice.

The first phase is training. In order for the children to know what to do and how to

do it, they must be taught the rules they must follow. They also have to be taught to

cooperate and listen to the person of authority, generally the adult, giving the

instructions (Real Discipline, n.d., all). Compliance should become a natural habit.

During this phase, the teacher should let no misbehavior go unnoticed. If the teacher

sees a student misbehaving they should correct them immediately by having them

practice the correct behavior (Charles, 2011, p.87).

The second phase of the theory is similar to the first part. It is in this part that the

skills and attitudes for being responsible and cooperative are taught (Real Discipline,

n.d, all). Charles (2011) says, when students fail to comply with expectations, dont

scold or punish them. Simply have them redo the behavior in an acceptable manner and

continue to practice it. Doing this will teach students to work together, be courteous,

and resolve conflicts.

The third phase is managing student choice. It is this phase that the popular

disciplines focus on more than anything, as today it is forgotten that in order to produce

students who can make good choices, they must be taught and trained how to do such
a thing (Secrets, n.d, pp 5). Charles (2011) describes this as helping students move

toward independence by offering them the ability to make choices as they show the

ability to handle them. The students will be capable of making their own choices when

they can recognize that independence requires balancing personal rights with personal

responsibility, that the rights and needs of others much be considered, and that students

should recognize that even in unsupervised situations responsibility should be used.

Morrish defines independence as doing what is right when you are on your own

opposed to being able to do your own thing (p. 91). Until students are able to do so,

the teacher will need to continue to guide them.

Unlike clich forms of discipline, real discipline does not necessarily have any

forms of punishment. Instead, the consequences associated with this theory are more of

reinforcements. The teacher should explain to the student why the consequences are

occurring so that they will understand what they did. The student should then take some

sort of action to make the situation right again. This could occur through getting back on

good terms with the victims of misbehavior or teaching younger children why what they

did was wrong (Charles, 2011, p. 95). When students are faced with the consequences

of their actions, whether it is trying their original action again in the correct way or doing

what they can to make it right again, they are learning that discipline is used to be a

positive influence and this can be done without direct punishment. They are learning

that discipline shows caring (Secrets ,n.d., pp 14).

As children get older, our job is to ensure that the students grow up to be

responsible and respectful (Real Discipline,n.d., all). To make this possible, teachers

must plan how they will implement Morrishs theory. Morrish has given suggestions
regarding to organizing the classroom for this. The teacher must decide ahead of time

how they would like their students to behave, including how the teacher will correct the

students and how they will interact. A structure for the classroom must be established to

keep the day flowing, including all of the procedures and rules. The line for school and

home must be drawn, which means that the teacher must remind the students to keep

outside influences on attitude and behavior out of the classroom. It is a good idea for

teachers to do a test run on their procedures, if they notice that they will not work in the

classroom they can easily make changes before the students become too attached. The

teacher must make students push their limits and think. Underachievement should not

be accepted with the high standards that are to be set. One final suggestion that

Morrish strongly suggests is to teach students how to behave appropriately and by

enforcing the rules and expectations (Charles, 2011, p. 91-93).

As a future teacher, I love Morrishs theory. I strongly believe that this is

something that we should focus on in our classrooms. I do think that under some

circumstances actual punishment is necessary, however the student should be made to

behave in the way that is expected of them even if they fail to do so the first time. I

agree with Morrish that this is necessary for students to grow into responsible, self-

sufficient, and successful adults. Simply sending the student to the office for every

misbehavior will not change anything and they may even enjoy getting out of class.

Some see this theory as hard work, but it is basically what parents should also do. The

students need to learn these habits so, yes, this theory should be implemented as much

as possible. In the classroom, it may look as though this theory is extreme. Of course it

would, the teachers are requiring the students to learn what is right and wrong. The
students are practicing the behavior that is expected of them at all times, only to be

reinforced when they act in the incorrect way. The teacher only means well and the

steps that are shaping the students to be even better should not be looked down upon.


Charles, C.M. (2011). Building classroom discipline (10 th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson

Morris, R. C., & Elliott, J. C.. (1985).

Ronald morrish - author, speaker, behavior consultant. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2016,


Secrets of discipline: an overview. (n.d.). Retrieved March 03, 19, from page/Secrets Overview (2).pdf

Understanding alternatives for classroom discipline. the clearing house, 58(9), 408

412.Retrieved from