By October 9, 2015 3 Comments Read More →

My Friend, Steve

Steve Moncus is an extraordinary person and teacher, and he will be sharing his advice for those new to the profession.  His blog, has wonderful stories about his experiences.   The following essay is related to his story, “An Elephant Ate My PE Clothes” on his blog.


             Fortunately, here in Texas public schools, corporal punishment is mostly a thing of our dark and sadly ignorant past. When I was a school kid it was prevalent, not just accepted but expected. I was personally the recipient of many hardy swats of the “board of education” usually concerning the issue of gym clothes – forgetting to take them home on Friday to wash out a weeks worth of sweat and grim or forgetting to bring them back on Monday to wear in gym class. The swats, although administered enthusiastically by a burly gym coach, were not particularly painful, they were always humiliating to the point of tears. Also, even as a not terribly precocious child, I somehow knew that the whole affair was singularly counter-productive. I was basically a good kid, if a little lazy and sometimes forgetful. I knew right from wrong and had an abiding desire to please the “big people”. It occurred to me that a “good talking to” would have done just as much toward correcting my errant behavior as hitting be on the behind with a piece of lumber.

            Unfortunately, even though it is now seldom corporal, punishment is still considered (Maybe considered is not correct. Maybe it is more an unconscious urge.) by many teachers to be a useful educational tool. I do not understand, in view of our knowledge of human development, how any qualified teacher could still hold such an archaic belief. I am not aware of a single education department in any university that includes punishment in their training of teachers in the ways of behavior management. In fact, data shows that punishment does not, on a permanent basis, change behavior in a positive way. At best it teaches a child not to get caught doing whatever it is that you do not want them to do. At the worst it teaches them that it is alright for a teacher to punish them, then it must be alright for them to punish anyone with whose behavior they disagree.

            And there are really good, well researched alternatives to punishment which are enthusiastically offered by universities to those studying to become teachers. This is not new information. The giants in the education field, my heroes, such as B.F. Skinner and Dr. William Glasser, did all of the work on the subject as far back as the fifties. Many, many other smart people have taken Skinner’s and Glasser‘s work and refined the strategies for behavior management to almost simple perfection.

               Why then, I have to ask, do many teachers insist upon using archaic and unworkable methods for handling students when better methods exist? It must have something to do with the simple pleasure that some teachers get from exerting power over others. As I seem to remember, isn’t this one definition of sadism?

            As for me personally I have used behavior modification and reality/control theory strategies mostly successfully for the four odd decades of my teaching career. I say “mostly successfully” because the methods can be limited at times by the ebb and flow of my own energy and frustration level. No one is perfect, but I have always noted that when I use punishment it is never truly productive. Why not use methods that are proven to work as opposed to using something insidious which simply does not work?

Some tips: Engage every student from bell to bell.

                   Make every class interesting, relevant and challenging.

                   Make every student feel important every day.

                   Make sure every student is picking up what you are putting down.

*This essay goes along with my blog “An Elephant Ate My PE Clothes” which you can find on my blog site


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My Friend, Steve

Stephen Moncus is an artist, theatre set designer, book illustrator, writer as well as a retired high school teacher with forty plus years experience. His popular blog site,, is a collection of true stories shared from his years in the classroom.

CircleBen-02_100x115Ben says, “An Investment in Knowledge pays the best Interest.”

Posted in: Be My Guest, Comments

About the Author:

I am an observer of our interesting world , sharing my passions and my outrages, and thinking of Incredible Ben, his amazing blending of a social and civic life with superb common sense.

3 Comments on "My Friend, Steve"

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  1. Stephen Moncus says:

    Very nice blog site, Carol. Thanks for having me as a guest. You were a truly great school superintendent to work for and a wonderful friend.

  2. Stephan says:

    Saved as a favorite, I actually like your site!

    Look at my website clash royale hack android (Stephan)

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