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2. Logical Consequences Model

A second popular model of classroom management is articulated by Rudolf Dreikurs (1968). This model is based on earlier work by German psychiatrist Alfred Adler, and relies on the notion that students’ misbehavior is an outgrowth of their unmet needs. One of the underlying assumptions of the model is that all students desire and need social recognition. When this need is not fulfilled, students exhibit a hierarchy of misbehaviors based on what Dreikurs refers to as “mistaken goals.”

Dreikurs holds that when a student’s need for recognition is unmet, that student will first display attention-seeking behaviors. If those behaviors do not result in the desired recognition, the student will attempt to engage teachers in power struggles. If this bid for power still leaves the student without the desired recognition, the student may focus on issues of fairness and attempts to exact revenge. If this behavior is unsuccessful, the student may finally resort to “displays of inadequacy” (Dreikurs Grunwald, and Pepper 1998, 24-25) where he or she appears to simply give up and disengage.

Where the Assertive Discipline model of classroom management emphasizes the importance of teacher imposed structure in the classroom, the Driekurs model emphasizes the importance of assisting students in meeting their innate need to gain recognition and acceptance. Even when a teacher strives to establish a classroom where all students feel recognized and accepted, it is likely that some misbehavior will occur. In those cases, Dreikurs advocates for the application of logical consequences (Dreikurs and Grey 1968), which are consequences that have a clear and logical connection to the misbehavior and have been discussed and agreed upon with the student before applied. An example of a logical consequence for a student who disrupts others during class might be that the student will be isolated from the group until he or she agrees to rejoin the group without disruption.

A logical consequence is different from a natural consequence in that natural consequences occur without teacher planning or discussion with the student. Although logical consequences should be clearly related to the misbehavior, they also require active planning and conscious application.

Although the use of logical consequences to respond to misbehavior is an important element of Dreikurs model, the real strength of the model lies in its emphasis on preventing misbehavior. Although this emphasis on prevention is a common thread among all the models described here, Dreikurs model is unique in th prevention is based on developing positive relationship with students so that they can feel accepted.

Application In the Classroom

The principles espoused by Dreikurs can be applied in many middle and high school classroom situations. For example, during a high school English class, a student may be sitting at his desk listening to music while wearing headphones. If the teacher demands that the student remove the headphones and turn off the music, the student may respond by smiling at the teacher and refusing to follow directions. Additional demands by the teacher may result in continued defiance and increased silliness on the part of the student. In this case, the teacher has merely fueled the student’s acting out to gain both attention (from peers as well as the teacher) and power.

According to Dreikurs, teachers should always avoid power struggles with students. A better approach would be for the teacher to ignore the headphones and try instead to work the student into some sort of leadership role, like helping the teacher take roll, proofreading an answer key or writing the day’s homework assignment on the overhead. If the student’s mistaken goal is to gain a sense of power, then teachers should look for productive ways to allow that student to feel powerful and consequently valued and recognized.

Attempting to “put a student in his place” will only increase that student’s feelings of neglect or inferiority and lead to increased acting out.

The distribution of logical consequences can also be applied to the example of the student listening to music on Headphones. After class, the teacher could conference with the student about what an appropriate consequence for wearing headphones during class might be.

One conceivable consequence would be for that student to make up the amount of class time he missed (by not being able to hear the teacher) during lunch time.

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