The Canters and Assertive Discipline, although enthusiastically accepted at first, have received a great deal of criticism over the years. To be fair, some of that criticism was misplaced, based on the actions and results of some educators following only PART of the Canter method, namely emphasizing the negative consequences when students misbehave. According to Canter, the “key to Assertive Discipline is catching students being good: recognizing and supporting them when they behave appropriately and letting them know that you like it, day in and day out.” ("...More than Names on the Board..." 58)
- Assertive Discipline puts too much focus on punishment and rewards and does not lead to real behavior modification.
- Rewards and punishments prolong child's low level of moral development and dependence on others (Hitz)
- Randy Hitz (Young Children 25)
- Assertive Discipline forces desirable behavior through power assertion rather than developing responsible behavior
- Reward systems advocated by Canter devalue humanity and individuality of child
- Offers temporary control of children
- Is Assertive Discipline responsive to developmental needs of children? or convenience of adults?
- Limited evidence to support claims (Render, Padilla, and Krank 72)
- small database of “research”
- in reviewing all the literature at the time, Render et al found only 16 studies in which information was gathered in some systematic way and results presented
- Uniform plan cannot meet the needs of all students (differentiation)
- Curwin and Mendler (Educational Leadership 71)
- effective discipline does not come from use of packaged method
- effective discipline comes from heart, soul, and positive energy of teacher
- questions to ask about a discipline program before implementation
- punishments or consequences for students who break rules?
- realistically possible to reinforce program consistently?
- what do students learn as result of enforcement?
- are principles of behavior as visible and important as rules?
- do students have say in what happens to them?
- is dignity of students preserved?
- Kohn's criticism of Canter (Wolfgang 107-109)
- Punishment makes somebody suffer in order to teach a lesson
- Rewards do nothing to help a child become a kind or caring person
- Supportive feedback/public praise can pit students against each other and is an interaction that is “fundamentally fraudulent in its own right.”