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Punitive measures

How to talk so kids can learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish is a book about tips and encouraging insights on how parents and or teachers could phrase their statements to enhance the learning capabilities of students. It provides information on how to create a climate for learning that will help motivate children to exert their best effort to enhance their skills and knowledge. It shows how parents and teachers can work together to inspire kids to be self-directed, self-disciplined, and responsive to the wonders of learning. The book provides alternatives to punishment and proper praises for children.

According to Faber and Mazlish, we have largely been programmed to feel any indiscretion by a child warrants a punishment. This book offers alternatives which help the child change undesirable behaviors without enduring punitive measures. As educators, we should strive to turn the “desire to misbehave” into the “desire to behave appropriately. ” Examples of contrasting helpful and unhelpful dialogues, questions and stories from parents and teachers, and instructive cartoons are even included to better illustrate the message it tries to convey.

Common mistakes made by teachers are offered such as: The child who does poorly on a test often is told, “Don’t worry. You’ll do better next time. ” Instead of dismissing the child’s feeling this way, alternatives suggested by the book include: Identify the child’s feelings by acknowledging their disappointment, either with a simple comment on how you understand their frustration, or even with a simple sound or word, such as, “Oh” or “I see;” or, giving the child a fantasy alternative like offering a magic pencil which could erase mistakes before they are made.

Another example would be when adults are unhappy with a situation, instead of criticizing or punishing, it offers alternative steps like: -Describe the problem. (I see paper on the floor. ) -Give information. (Paper needs to be put in the garbage can. ) -Offer a choice. (You can pick up the scraps or get a broom and sweep them up. ) -Say it with a word or gesture. (Point to scraps on floor. ) -Describe what you feel. (I don’t like scraps all over the floor. ) -Put it in writing. (Post a message such as: Please leave the floor clean when you leave the classroom. Thank you! ) -Be playful.

(Sing a funny tune: “I see paper, I see paper, Pick it up, Pick it up! ” to the tune of “Frere Jacques”) By focusing on the solution rather than the problem, the adult shows the child the desired behavior without getting into a power struggle. In essence, the book helps enhance the communication skills of adults pertaining to parents and teachers to, in effect, enhance their relationship with the children. Adele Faber was a graduate of Queens College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Drama. She earned her masters degree in Education from New York University and taught for eight years in New York City High Schools.

Elaine Mazlish was a graduate of New York University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Theatre Arts. She had worked with children at Grosvenor House and Lenox Hill Settlements. She is also a professional artist and composer. The authors are former members of the faculty of the New School for Social Research in New York and Family Life Institute of C. W. Post College of Long Island University. Their first collaboration was in Liberated Parents/Liberated Children, a book that describes their experiences in ten years of parent-guidance groups with the late child psychologist, Dr. Haim Ginott.


Faber, Adele and Elaine Mazlish. How To Talk So Kids Can Learn. New York: Fireside, 1996. Teacher Leaders Network. <http://www. teacherleaders. org/old_site/Resources/bkreviews1. html> Lewis, Beth. “Book Review: How To Talk So Kids Can Learn” About. Com. <http://k6educators. about. com/library/weekly/aa020600a. htm> Find Articles. Com. <http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_m2248/is_130_33/ai_65306475> Hantsweb. <http://www. jobs. hants. gov. uk/print/childrens-services/families/heps/heps-news/childrens-services-heps-book-review. htm> About Adele and Elaine. <http://www. fabermazlish. com/about. htm>

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