Assertive and Democratic Discipline in Studies

Subject: Education
Pages: 6
Words: 1496
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: PhD


Educators can adopt various models to manage the behavior of students in the classroom. These theoretical frameworks are based on different assumptions about the way in which individuals can change their conduct. This paper is aimed at examining two approaches, namely, assertive discipline, developed by Lee Cantor, and democratic discipline, created by Rudolf Dreikurs. Overall, in each case, theorists emphasize the idea that a teacher should avoid permissiveness and hostility to learners. However, they disagree on the value of punishment. It is also important to explain how these approaches can be employed in the classroom. One can argue that the primary task is to determine how accurately a particular model describes the reaction of a person to the intervention of a teacher.

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A brief review of the theories

Assertive discipline is premised on the idea that a teacher should force students to follow the rules. One should note that an educator is regarded as the chief decision-maker who has the authority to establish standards and procedures. The duty of this professional is to eliminate every form of disruptive behavior (Edwards & Watts, 2008).

This goal should be achieved by using positive and negative reinforcements. Certainly, the advocates of this model recognize the importance of praise and rewards that can encourage learners to meet the expectations of educators. However, they lay more stress on the role of punishments that deter students from disrupting teaching and learning activities. Nevertheless, the teacher must be consistent in the use of punishments. Moreover, it is not permissible to humiliate students. Overall, one can use such methods as detentions, communication with students’ parents, or sending learners to the office of the principal. This approach strongly relies on the ideas of behaviorist psychologists such as Skinner and Watson. They believe that the conduct of a person is shaped by external influences such as rewards and punishments.

In turn, Rudolf Dreikurs argues that it is necessary to focus on the motives of students. These individuals crave recognition and belonging (Rogers, 2015). Disruptive behaviors often show that these needs are not met. If a teacher disregards these expectations, students will not be willing to take part in the classroom activities. These learners will feel disadvantaged in some way. Additionally, they are more likely to follow the established rules and procedures if they understand their rationale. Furthermore, students need to see that their disruptive behavior will result in some logical consequences (Edwards & Watts, 2008). For example, learners, who do not complete their classroom work due to disruptive behavior, will be required to perform these tasks at home. Additionally, students, who regularly disturb others, will need to sit right near the teacher.

Educators, who use punishment can just detain such students or send them to the office of the principal. However, students may not see the causal relations between misbehaviors and punishments. One should bear in mind that logical consequences require the intervention of the teacher (Crary, 1993, p. 82). At the same time, it is possible to consider natural consequences that do not necessitate any corrective measures (Crary, 1993, p. 82). For instance, a person, who is often rude to other students, may eventually become alienated. Other learners may try to avoid him/her. The task of a teacher is to highlight the causal relations between this behavior and adverse consequences.

Similarities and distinctions between the models

Overall, there are several similarities between these frameworks. In particular, both models do not accept the permissive and aggressive behavior of a teacher. Each of them can contribute to such problems as poor academic performance, lack of motivation, students’ feeling of inferiority, and so forth. Apart from that, theorists, who advocate these models, attach importance to the clarity of rules. In other words, students need to understand the expectations that are set for them. If this requirement is not met, they will feel extremely vulnerable. Additionally, they will regard the teacher as an autocratic figure who can reward or punish without providing any explanations. It is one of the main pitfalls that should be avoided.

However, it is important to remember the distinctions between these approaches. In particular, the supporters of Lee Cantor’s model believe that a teacher has the exclusive authority to set rules. In contrast, democratic discipline includes the idea that students must take part in the development of rules. They should also understand why these rules should be accepted. Moreover, Lee Cantor attaches importance to the educators’ right to teach without having to struggle with any interruptions (Marsh, 2010, p. 233). In turn, Rudolf Dreikurs accepts the idea that disruptive behavior can be caused by the inefficiencies of the strategies chosen by the teacher (Rogers, 2015). For instance, students can do so because they believe that they have no control over their learning activities. Additionally, they can adopt this strategy to attract the attention of other people and ask for their help. Apart from that, these theorists disagree considerably on the value of punishment. The advocates of assertive discipline argue that punishment is a valid tool that can eliminate or at least minimize the disruptive behaviors of learners. In turn, Rudolf Dreikurs does not accept the idea that punishments can significantly improve the conduct of students. The major problem is that such corrections can make students feel hostile to the teacher. Instead, one should explain that misbehaviors can lead to adverse and inevitable consequences. Finally, these frameworks include different assumptions about the behavior of workers. Rudolf Dreikurs believes that learners want to take control over their activities. Moreover, they may resist external influences such as negative reinforcements. At the same time, assertive discipline relies on behaviorism according to which a person’s values and beliefs are shaped by external factors (Click & Parker, 2011, p. 69).

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Overall, I would like to apply Rudolf Dreikurs’ model because this method enables students to become more engaged in their learning activities. This approach applies to learners who may be aged between seven and twelve. I will need to take several steps at the beginning of the academic year. At first, I will need to identify several rules that students should follow. For instance, these rules can be related to such problems coming late to classes or disturbing other students. Apart from that, I will need to identify the rationale for these principles and discuss them with students. While discussing these principles with students, I will encourage them to see that some behaviors are not acceptable. For instance, they should think about how people may feel if they are continuously interrupted. Additionally, students should be asked if they would like to sit at the unclean table. These questions are necessary for showing why rules should be established. In my opinion, this rhetoric strategy is important for showing that restrictions are not imposed on students (Crary, 1993).

Moreover, I will encourage students to sign the code of conduct. Admittedly, this agreement does not always prevent students from misbehaving. However, this code signifies that students can take an active part in the decision-making (Schafer, 2011, p. 116). Therefore, they will feel more motivated to follow the established procedures. It is the primary rationale for the use of this method.

Apart from that, I will need to explain the logical consequences entailed by disruptive behaviors. For example, a student, who will regularly be late for classes, will be required to study during breaks or stay after school. It will not be a punishment. More likely, this intervention is supposed to help a person cover the topics studied during the lesson. However, learners should be warned about these consequences at the start of the academic year. Additionally, I will need to explain what students should do if they need some form of assistance. I should also focus on the situations when learners think that something is not clear. For instance, they should openly express their concerns prior to the start of a learning activity. Nevertheless, they should not prevent other students from studying.

Moreover, I will need to communicate with some students in private if they are continuously engaged in disruptive behavior. This conduct can be attributed to some psychological problems faced by a learner. I will need to remove the barriers that prevent this individual from behaving appropriately. However, I will not rely on the assistance of school administrators such as the principal. This form of punishment often undermines the authority of the educator. This intervention also implies that the teacher is helpless and inefficient.


Overall, this discussion shows that a teacher should understand and evaluate the major assumptions included in various behavior management theories.

Moreover, one should determine how accurately these models reflect the behavior of students. It seems that the approach developed by Rudolf Dreikurs describes the attitudes of students more accurately. Nevertheless, it is possible to accept the ideas advocated by Lee Cantor who notes that teachers should not act in a permissive manner. This behavior of an educator can make students even more hostile to the teacher.


Click, P., & Parker, J. (2011). Caring for School-Age Children. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

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Crary, E. (1993). Without Spanking Or Spoiling: A Practical Approach to Toddler and Preschool Guidance. New York, NY: Parenting Press.

Edwards, C., & Watts, V. (2008). Classroom discipline and management. Milton, Australia: John Wiley.

Marsh, C. (2010). Becoming a Teacher. New York, NY: Pearson Higher Education.

Rogers, B. (2015). Classroom behaviour: A practical guide to effective teaching, behavior management and colleague support. New York, NY: Sage.

Schafer, A. (2011). Ain’t Misbehavin’: Tactics for Tantrums, Meltdowns, Bedtime Blues and Other Perfectly Normal Kid Behaviors. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.