And Now, A Brief Word...

[Joel Judd 950628.1415 CST]

Sometimes, when the waves of theory and countertheory seem to be
breaking especially hard, it's nice to move inland a little and see
what's happening in town:

     **** WARNING!!! ****
Due to recent actions by the US Senate, I feel I must advise anyone
under the age of 18 that the following contains two four letter words,
one of them conjugated three ways. If you are offended by such
language, SUE ME! I just bought a house and am in debt up to my
grandfather's eyeballs. Go ahead :-0


TO: CSG-L INTERNET Any user on the Internet, not at DESE Proj. Box

FROM: JUDDJ DESEINST Joel Judd - DESE - Division of Instruction

DATE: June 28, 1995
SUBJECT: And Now, A Brief Word...


"Ten minutes later Steven threw a block at John's head, barely missing.
There was no way to ignore Steven. He was a disruptive, angry, and
disagreeable child who hit children too often. And he happened to be
black. If only he were white...Steven kept bringing it [skin color] up.
This person was a 'fuckin' honky,' and someone else was a 'white
motherfucker.' But cursing was not the primary problem. Children were
being hurt. If Steven were to remain in the class, he had to stop
hitting and bullying the children...

I had been reading some books dealing with various behavior modification suited my feelings about teaching. So I began a
consistent program of positive comments and reactions to Steven. I
watched him like a hawk and everytime he did anything constructive,
helping, or even barely friendly to others, I commented.

...Steven loved the compliments. He looked around for me when he did
something worthy of recognition...The trouble was that he was also
growing more aggressive towards some of the children...Part of the
behavior modification strategy is to ignore as much as possible the
antisocial behavior of the child...the abundance of attention given to
positive behavior will diminish the negative behavior.

This made sense to me...But it was not working. His moments of extreme
hostility seemed to be increasing. What was I doing wrong?...I tried a
gimmick, a little blue book...we would record every helpful act. Steven
was delighted with the blue book.

And still his behavior got worse. I decided, impulsively, to hell with
this business of ignoring hurtful behavior. This is nonsense. It is
unnatural, and he knows it as well as I do. It is confusing him. He
must be punished each time he hurts someone.

...Now, when he hurts someone, he will have to sit a
'time-out' chair, and do nothing for ten minutes.

...Suddenly Steven pushed Jimmy down and began kicking him. I jumped
up, grabbed Steven, and dragged him to the chair [she physically keeps
him there] I said, 'Steven, don't even think of kicking me. I can't ever

let you do that. I have to make you sit here because you won't do it by
yourself. Every time you hurt someone you must sit here.'

This was a Monday. We did this twice on Monday, twice on Tuesday. On
Wednesday, Steven sat on the time-out chair all by himself with no
complaint. After that, he stopped hitting children. I had won because
of superior strength and size. I was not sure what was won and what was

[Although Steven's physical outbursts diminish, his verbal ones
continue. The teacher began to use 'black' and 'white' "every chance I
had." Steven began to use such terms in anger less and less. But the
obscenities continued.]

One day I said to Steven, during a quiet time, 'Hey Steve, would you
mind not saying 'fuck' so often? I know you like to say it but it
really makes me feel bad. Look, how about this? Say it twice each day,
ok? And you can say 'shit' two times also.' I had not planned this.
It just happened. I kep thinking, what a strange thing to do. The next
day, he called Sam and Edward the usual names. I said to him, 'I
counted twice. You called Sam a 'fuckin' honky' and Eddy a
'motherfucker.' That's all until tomorrow.

Soon Steven was telling me when he reached the limit. I don't know why
this approach worked with Steven, but it surely did work...

...By the end of the week, Steven had eliminated almost all the racial
epithets from his school vocabulary...He was starting to some to me with
arguments and complaints. He was using different language to express
some of his feelings..."

[from _White Teacher_ by Vivian Paley]

Would that such tolerance and inquisitiveness could be taught to
everyone in positions of influence, with or without a model.