Thursday, March 01, 2007


It sometimes seems like everywhere I look these days I see stick & carrot routines going on. The government makes shameless use of these methods and they're commonly-employed parenting and schoolclass-controlling (You can't call it teaching!) methods too.

I get the impression hardly anyone knows any other way of behaving in a group, other than stick without carrot or carrot without stick.

Well yes, I suppose you can often get people to do what you want or need them to do by employing various combinations of threats and rewards, but I don't think it's the most effective way to interact with people.

So what is?

Things work best here when I respect the children's wishes and try to comply with and accommodate them. In order to do that, I have to first find out what the children's wishes actually are, which involves being aware, and asking questions and paying close attention to the answers. Listening. And suspending any judgmental thoughts about what I hear. Because why would my children want to do anything that wasn't good for them, when it would be counterproductive to their own wellbeing? They wouldn't, so I trust them to make their own decisions.

You might think, oh things work well in your house whenever you act like a full-time mug and pander to your children's every whim. But it works both ways. When I do that for them, they automatically do it back to me. So we all live in a more aware and conscious way, taking account of one another's wishes and requirements. It's quite habit-forming and makes things very harmonious and productive.

Not that everything in the garden is always rosy. People get tired and cranky. Misunderstandings and annoyances occur and we do sometimes forget and everything descends into conflict and chaos. But because we've done it the good way a lot, someone soon remembers and the established pattern quickly reasserts itself. We never resort to threats or bribes though.

Would this work in bigger, less connected groups like school classes, or even countries?

I don't see why not, but it would render most rules, regulations and laws obsolete.


Blogger Allie said...

I think these kinds of methods work best in small groups, where the people know each other very well - and share mutual affection.

We try to live that way too - with varying amounts of success. I have never employed rewards and punishment with our kids - it just seems so fake.

I think there's a lot that larger groups can learn from this model, but I think that you couldn't translate it directly to bigger groups - too much scope for structural unfairness to work its way in.

11:36 am, March 02, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

" too much scope for structural unfairness to work its way in."

Yes, I see your point. I wonder what the solution to that might be.

Gatto thinks we should settle for weaker structures to avoid corruption.

8:11 pm, March 02, 2007  
Blogger mamadillo said...

perjaps the point is that bigger groups are less conducive to non-coercive living with its attendant formation of better theories, in theory, and therefore should be avoided?

I read a sci-fi novel the other day where part of the social set-up was that compulsory education had been scrapped as being counterproductive. If only...

5:38 pm, March 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

That sounds like the wisest solution. Why does it only happen in sci-fi? ;-)

10:55 pm, March 03, 2007  

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