The Canter model of Assertive Discipline is a classroom management model that I believe is useful in the Christian school classroom. In this model of classroom management, teachers make rules and enforce the consequences of those rules, whenever they are broken. This model was developed by Lee and Marlene Canter. Lee was an educator and social worker, who helped educators work with students who had behavioral disorders. Marlene had advanced training in special education. The philosophical and psychological foundations of their model was based on B. F. Skinner’s Behavior Modification theory of rewards and punishments. He purported that positive reinforcement follows positive behavior, and that punishment or a negative consequence follows negative behavior. He also believed that consequences should increase with the continuity or severity of an offense. The Canter’s considered the rewards and punishment theory to be effective, stating that in their system both teachers and students have rights, rules and consequences are delivered without bias, consequences are appropriate for the age level of the student and the type and severity of the infraction. But before Skinner, the Bible, clearly set up a system of rewards and punishments in Genesis. God stated to the children of Israel “I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse…” I believe the Canter’s model of discipline is consistent with the Bible and it’s implications for discipline. All the tenets of their model can be supported by scripture, which makes it an ideal model for teachers in Christian Schools.
There are generally three response styles of teachers according to the Canters, the non-assertive style, the hostile style, and the assertive style. The nonassertive style of teacher has no clear standards, no follow-through, and is ineffective in their classroom management style. Teachers must set clear standards, be consistent enforcing them, or they will be ineffective in the discipline of their classroom. According to Proverbs 19:19 A rebellious and angry person must pay the penalty, for if you rescue him from punishment, you will have to do it again and again. The hostile style of teacher has an aversive approach with threats, sarcasm, and shouts, and is often emotionally harmful, and possibly even abusive. According to Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue… so teachers, especially Christian ones, should avoid this behavior. The assertive style of teacher sets clear limits and consequences, and has appropriate rewards and consequences for behaviors, and clearly expresses them to her students, usually in both written and oral forms. Deut. 11:32 is a good example of this. God told the children of Israel “Be sure to obey all the laws I am setting before you today.” God gave them a clear set of rules (the Ten Commandments), and clearly set the rewards for obedience and the punishment for disobedience. Teachers using the assertive style of discipline should avoid the broken- record response, using a maximum of three requests for compliance. The nonassertive style that is shown in Pro. 19:19, which tells us that if we let someone get by with something without the proper discipline, we will have to do it repeatedly, so teachers must be consistent with discipline.