The images in our minds drive our behaviors. The body literally cannot move contrary to a vividly held image. Therefore, in order to change a habit or behavior, we must change our perception to include the new habit or behavior.
The opening paragraph of my book deals with mindsets. It sets the stage for the entire book because my purpose is to influence young people to have mindsets where they WANT to be responsible and WANT to learn. The objective is to create visual images that drive behaviors.
The following exercise (shared with me by Jack Canfield, coauthor with Mark Victor Hansen of “The Aladdin Factor” and the “Chicken Soup” series) gives students an experience of the power of imagery for both behavior and learning.
Students will need room for the exercise.
Divide the class in two groups, A and B. Say the following to group A:
I want you to close your eyes and imagine in your mind a seagull floating gracefully in the air. See it gently, easily, effortlessly gliding through the air. When you have the picture of a seagull vividly in your mind, nod your head. Now with your eyes a quarter of the way open so that you can see the floor in front of you and have a sense of where your neighbors are, move like a seagull—keeping the image of the seagull vividly in your mind. Continue that while I go over to the other group.
Say the following to group B:
Close your eyes and imagine a jackhammer. See it moving rapidly up and down in short, jerky, staccato movements. When you have that picture of a jackhammer vividly in your mind, nod your head. Now with your eyes a quarter of the way open so that you can see the floor in front of you and have a sense of where your neighbors are, move like a jackhammer—keeping the image of the jackhammer vividly in your mind. Continue that while I go over to the other group.
Turn back to group A and continue:
Once again, close your eyes and imagine that effortless, graceful seagull floating on an air current, barely moving its wings. When you have that picture vividly in your mind, nod your head. Now keeping that image of the seagull vividly in your mind, open your eyes a quarter of the way and move like a jackhammer.
Most students will have a great deal of difficulty moving like jackhammers while thinking of a seagull. Their movements will be somewhere in between jerky and graceful, or they will be frozen and unable to move at all.
Turn to group B and say:
Close your eyes again, and imagine that jerky jackhammer bouncing up and down on the pavement. When you have that picture vividly in your mind, nod your head. Now while keeping the image of the jackhammer vividly in your mind, open your eyes a quarter of the way and move gracefully like a seagull.
Again, students will have a tough time making their bodies move counter to the image they are holding in their heads.
This is a very dramatic exercise—one that easily and quickly makes the point that our bodies cannot do anything counter to the images we hold in our minds.
Have the students share anything they noticed about their bodies the second time when they were holding an image counter to how they were trying to move. If any student claims that it was easy to move the second time, ask if both images were equally visualized. Most will admit that they had to let go of one image in order to move like the other image.
Ask them if a friend has ever asked them to do something unusual, and they responded, “I couldn’t do that; it’s not me.” The reason we say that is because we look inside our minds and see if what our friend has asked us to do fits our perception of ourselves. If it doesn’t fit, we don’t think we can do it; so we don’t even attempt it.
Emphasize the following point: The body literally cannot move contrary to a vividly held image. Therefore, in order to change a habit or behavior, we must change our perception to include the new habit or behavior. Otherwise, any changes we make will be difficult and short-lived.
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His approach is the only system that is proactive, totally noncoercive, and does not use external manipulatives or threats. He INDUCES students to WANT to act responsibly and WANT to put forth effort to learn.
His book, "Discipline without Stress® Punishments or Rewards - How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning" is used in schools, universities, and homes around the world. The book clearly and concisely demonstrates how external approaches of relying on rules, imposing consequences, rewarding students for appropriate behavior, and punishing students to make them obey are all counterproductive. His approach reduces stress and is more effective than traditional approaches that focus on obedience because obedience does not create desire.
A prime reason that the approach is the fastest growing discipline and learning system in the country and is taught in so many universities is that it teaches students to understand differences between internal and external motivation. A second reason is that the focus is on promoting responsibility; obedience then follows as a natural by-product. A third reason is that the system separates the deed from the doer, the act from the actor, a good kid from irresponsible behavior, thereby eliminating the natural tendency for a student to self-defend.
He offers the following resources to learn and support his approach:
http://www.marvinmarshall.com This is the foundational site that links to the teaching model, shares how a school can conduct its own in-house staff development, and contains free information for implementation. For a quick understanding of his approach, link to "THE HIERARCHY" and "IMPULSE MANAGEMENT."
http://www.disciplinewithoutstress.com This is the website for the best-selling book on discipline and learning. Three sections of the book are online: Classroom Meetings, Collaboration for Quality Learning, and Reducing Perfectionism.
http://www.AboutDiscipline.com explains reasons that external approaches - such as rewarding appropriate behavior, telling students what to do, and punishing them if they don’t - are not used to promote responsible behavior.