Posts tagged “Glasser biography

A Chair, a Glass of Water, and a Microphone – We Still Miss You, Bill

It was six years ago today that William Glasser passed away. (b. May 11, 1925 – d. August 23, 2013) For all who knew him it was a deep loss that we experienced at a heart level. His ideas impacted us in such tangible and meaningful ways and we wondered if we had thanked him enough and acknowledged the influence he had, and continues to have, in our lives. As part of my reflection today, which for me has included a few tears and many more smiles, I looked back on some of our almost 50 interviews together. I share this excerpt with you, not because of it’s earthshaking significance, but instead because of it’s joy-sparking simplicity.

Bill Glasser, a chair, a glass of water, and a microphone

An excerpt of interview #4 on November 28, 2003

Roy: Ok, you were back in . .  .

Glasser:  I was in Akron.

Roy:  Akron, yeh.  How did that go?

Glasser:  It went very well. That was the University of Akron, it was a really good talk.  I’m really honing my talk on mental health.  And, actually I’m now planning, we’re trying to set it up for the 18thof January, which is a Sunday, I’m trying to, uh, we’re gonna record some very fancy DVD recordings and bring all my work up to date with the new book Warning and everything.  And so, you’ll get those tapes, you’ll have that [stuff, too].

Roy:  Ok.  Seeing you there with the microphone (for this session I had him holding a hand-held microphone) is such a, uh .  . .

Glasser:  A common way to see me?

Roy:  A common, yeh, a very common way to see you, and actually, I’d like to maybe ask you, I was actually thinking about this on the way down today, uh, I’ve seen you speak a number of times.  In fact, it would be hard for me to count how many times. I’ve actually arranged a few of those and prior to one of your talks that I arranged, uh, I don’t know if it was you or Linda Harshman, uh, just pointed out to me that all you needed was basically a comfortable chair, a small table with a glass of water on it, and a microphone and you were ready to go.

Glasser: Right.  Still am.

Roy:  Still am.

Glasser:  I never use overhead projectors or things like that because that to me doesn’t work.  The audience doesn’t, it just doesn’t work.  They’re reading an overhead or .  . .  To me it’s foolish, Powerpoint and all that stuff.  For me it doesn’t work.

Roy:   Now you, you have, uh, I’ve seen you give talks that pretty much last the whole day, other than the break for lunch  .  .  .

Glasser:  Yeh, I have lots of material.

Roy:  I’ve seen you given talks that last, oh, approximately an hour and a half.  I’ve seen you give talks to maybe, you know, small groups of thirty people, and I’ve seen you give talks to a group exceeding five thousand people and every, every time it’s the same for you as far as your, uh, microphone, a glass of water, no notes.

Glasser:  I never use notes.

Roy:  I just have to, when you, when you, ok, like the one I saw where you spoke to over 5,000 people, I mean a gigantic auditorium .  .  .

Glasser:  People even I didn’t see, they were recording .  .  .

Roy:   No, you were on closed-circuit television.  Uh, I mean, prior to the talk, do you, do you have things clear in your mind or do you kind of feel like I know this stuff well enough that I’ll go up and start talking and see how it goes?

Glasser:  I know the stuff well enough, but I usually figure out how to start. I have the first couple of sentences in my mind to get it started.  And then after that, sometimes I’m surprised what happens after that, because I believe that if I have the talk too rehearsed then I lose all the creativity that’s available to me in this subject, so I figured this out a long time ago, so I just start talking and I, it works.  And, I’m not nervous before a talk.

Roy:  Yeh, I was wondering about that, too.

Glasser:  It’s just the opposite.  I’m anxious to go.  I can’t wait til the introduction is over, you know.  (laughter)  And you know, I like the Johnny Carson introduction where somebody says, “Here’s Bill,” and that’s good enough for me, and uh, because I’m so, I’m not being .  .  .  I’m not bragging or anything, I’m just so bursting with information I want to share that I, that I, you know, when people like something I’m gonna do, they want me to do it in an hour and I suggest that it won’t cost you any more money if you give me maybe an hour and a half to start, and then, so something I was asked to do recently, we tried to schedule something .  .  .

Roy:  How .  .  .

Glasser:  People that hire speakers they, they think that no one is going to sit for an hour, you know (laughter), but my audiences sit there for longer.

Roy:  That’s true.  How much after a talk, how much do you self-evaluate or how much do you critique yourself after a talk?

Glasser:  No, I don’t really do that.  I just say it was a good talk.  Sometimes I remember that I forgot to say something I wanted to say, but the audience will never know and I don’t worry about it.  If anything, I give the audience more information than they really can deal with easily, so I don’t worry about leaving something out.  But talking is what I do.  Writing is not .  .  .   I love to write now .  .  .  writing, though, has been learned.  But talking, I started talking in 1958, when I started lecturing for the California Youth Authority, I started working there in 57, and, 56 actually. I started working at the Ventura School, and then the lectures were so interesting that Miss Perry said, you know, to other superintendents when they met me, you ought to have Dr. Glasser, so I talked all around the Youth Authority, and then, I started talking to educators also, after I published the book, Mental Health or Mental Illness.


Indeed he did start talking to educators, and what an impact he had and continues to have in that field especially. So many of the current trends – social/emotional learning, mastery learning, focusing on relevance, restorative justice, and the importance of positive relationships – can be traced back to him.

Reading this short excerpt reminds me of his energy and the commitment he had to his beliefs. He was a relentless force, a gentle force, but a force in every sense of the word. Discouragement did not derail him and doubt did not slow him. Ultimately, the excerpt reminds me to buck up and be like Bill! On this important day, may you be invited and inspired and persuaded to buck up, too. The ideas of Choice Theory and Reality Therapy are as effective as ever.

Glasser during a talk in Ventura, CA.

Being What We Want Our Students to Become

The sun was in my eyes. Not all pictures can be great pictures. The important thing is I got a shot in front of a place that's important to me.

The sun was in my eyes. What can I say? Not all pictures can be great pictures. The important thing is I got a shot in front of a place that’s important to me.

I was privileged this past Thursday and Friday (June 11-12) to provide a Better Plan in-service to the staff at Livingstone Adventist Academy in Salem, Oregon. This was especially meaningful to me as my choice theory journey and the Soul Shaper book came out of my experience at Livingstone 20 years ago. I was principal of the school from 93-96. While several teachers (I always refer to the team I worked with as the Original Soul Shapers) from the mid-90s continued at the school until very recently, only one remains now, that being Chris Sequeira, who teaches History and Bible there. I was very pleased that the new team at Livingstone wants to learn about choice theory principles and consider ways to apply them in a classroom setting.

Chris Sequeira (on the right) and me in his classroom after the in-service was over, and just before we bid farewell to each other - him to see his daughter graduate from Walla Walla and me to head to PUC for graduation weekend.

Chris Sequeira (on the right) and me in his classroom after the in-service was over, and just before we bid farewell to each other – him to see his daughter graduate from Walla Walla and me to head to PUC for graduation weekend.

With the in-service behind me now, like school teachers and workshop facilitators around the world, I am now in that place called reflection. How did the workshop really go? What did I do or what took place that worked? What could be improved? What needs to be tweaked to make it better the next time I do a two-day training? Reflection is the act of self-evaluating, and self-evaluation is a powerful part of choice theory. It’s not about beating myself up over not covering as much content as I wanted to, or not covering a concept as effectively as I would have liked. It’s about authentically (and compassionately) reviewing what took place and then modifying my lesson plan for the next go at it. I did the best I could; now I think maybe my best can be better.


The team at Livingstone seemed to resonate with the choice theory concepts. Most of them had read some or all of Soul Shapers before the in-service, so that helped. They had questions about some of the psychology pieces, but I didn’t pick up any “dealbreaker”responses. Their real questions, the tougher questions, had to do with how do you put these ideas into action? How, for instance, do you use choice theory with five-year-olds? How would choice theory affect classroom management in a high school classroom? What do you do with the kid who refuses to respond to reasonable choices or additional chances for success? These kinds of questions are similar to the challenges we all face. Choice theory sounds good, but how does it really work?

The title and subtitle on the syllabus I used at Livingstone read:

The Better Plan
Being What We Want Our Students to Become

The subtitle came to me as I was putting the finishing touches on the handouts, but the more I think about it the more I like it. There’s a lot contained in the phrase, “Being what we want our students to become.” For one thing, as teachers and parents we tend to focus on the behavior of our children or our students. In other words, we focus on what we want them to become. Choice theory reminds us, though, indeed thoroughly explains the importance of our first focusing on ourselves and what we bring to our homes and classrooms. Choice theory emphasizes the value of understanding our own being – our thoughts, our goals, our habits, and our beliefs. Only as I come into an appreciation of my own internal control design can I share the theory of that design with my students. Only as I come to see the sense of the axiom that the only person I can control is myself will I be better able to implement a classroom management plan that honors the internal control design of each of my students.


Our first focusing on our “being” as teachers does not mean that we cannot seek to guide and influence the behavior of our students. It is always interesting, though, when we consider how our own thinking and acting may have been a part of creating the problem we want changed. The clearer we see ourselves the better our management strategies will be.

Like Ellen White wrote over a hundred years ago –

“Let it never be forgotten that the teacher must be what he desires his pupils to become.”                Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 58


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I can now sell for lower than Amazon. Get the book from me.

I can now sell for lower than Amazon. Let me know if you want one or several copies.

Help from the Iceberg


There is something fascinating about icebergs – the way they fall into the sea from their glacial upbringing, their massive size and heft, and the mysteries and stories that surround them. The fateful sinking of the unsinkable Titantic in 1912 is a famous example of iceberg lore.

Partly because the fresh water from which icebergs are formed is less dense that the salt water in which they float, only about 10% of the iceberg is visible above the water line. This is where the phrase “tip of the iceberg” comes from. The part of the iceberg you can see may look huge, but it is only a small fraction of its total size. It’s the 90% underneath the water that really forms the mass of the iceberg.


The science of an iceberg has actually helped me to understand some elements of choice theory a little better. Two of choice theory’s key elements include 1) the basic needs, and 2) the quality world. For me, the basic needs include –

Purpose and Meaning
Love and Belonging
Power and Achievement
Freedom and Autonomy
Fun and Joy
Survival and Safety

As a review –

Every human being has a unique set of basic needs that were passed on from his/her biological parents.
While every person arrives with a set of basic needs, no one arrives with instructions on how to meet them. From birth to death we are involved with learning to effectively meet our needs.
Our basic needs vary. A person can have a low need for fun and a high need for power. Many different combinations of need strengths can exist.
The needs want to be met. The stronger the need, the greater the urgency to fulfill it.
The need strengths do not change over time.

Glasser described the quality world as a special picture book in our head in which we collect pictures of the people, things, places, ideas, and activities that help us meet one or more of our basic needs. We begin to create this picture album from the moment we are born. We place people and things in our personal picture album; no one can force their way in uninvited. We can also take people and things out of our quality world, although that can be a very painful process. Our quality world represents the people, things, and ideas that are the most need-satisfying to us. As a result we put a lot of energy and effort into creating circumstances that match the pictures we have created. Problems can arise when we try to force others to match the pictures in our quality world. Choice theory reminds us, though, that the only person we can control is ourselves.

Screenshot 2014-11-05 21.11.15

The iceberg represents a helpful picture at this point. The part of the iceberg that is under the water, the huge 90% part of the iceberg, is similar to the basic needs. The basic needs are of huge importance in our lives. They exert an influence that is hard to overstate. Yet, like the invisible underwater portion of the iceberg, our basic needs are not easily seen or identified. There is no blood test, no x-ray, no brain scan that reveals what our need strengths are.


We get good clues about our basic needs, though, from the part of the iceberg we can see, that 10% above the water line that is comparable to our quality world picture books. How we behave in different life settings – with our families, at work, at play, when we have spare time, when things are going well, and when things are going not so well – provides us with good clues as to our basic need strengths. Understanding our personal basic needs and being aware of our own quality world pictures that help us meet those needs will go a long way toward us achieving happiness and mental health.


I mentioned Dr. Brene Brown, the author of Daring Greatly, in the last blog and I want to close with a couple of things she said that reminded me of the iceberg principle. She writes –

When we feel shame, we are most likely to protect ourselves by blaming something or someone, rationalizing our lapse, offering a disingenuous apology, or hiding out.

Shame seems to come from that invisible, immense underwater region of the iceberg that we can’t see and probably don’t want to see. She goes on to write –

When we apologize for something we’ve done, make amends, or change a behavior that doesn’t align with our values, guilt—not shame—is most often the driving force.

Guilt isn’t something that I want or feel comfortable with, but it is a part of the iceberg I can see, and therefore I can deal with it and make things right.


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Now priced at $18.51 on Amazon; 21 reviews have been submitted.

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An Unpublished Glasser Letter to the Editor

It’s good to hear Glasser’s voice again in this unpublished letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times.


First, an introduction. Birmingham High School, located in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California, came under attack as a bad high school at the close of 2005 and the beginning of 2006. Three years later, in 2009, the school was allowed to become a charter school, with part of the school breaking away to become a smaller magnet school. In 2006, though, because of multiple articles appearing in the LA Times, Glasser became aware of Birmingham’s challenges and wrote a letter to the editor that he hoped would be published. He shared it with me at the beginning of February, 2006. I don’t think the letter ever was published, but I pass it on to you as a reminder of the ideas that Glasser held dear. (The letter is a little long, but you can take that up with Bill.)

By William Glasser, M.D.

After reading the high school articles in the Los Angeles Times, I feel it is important that the reader not get the impression that school failure is the most serious failure of our society. Many of your readers might be interested in hearing how school failure compares with other failures that are more difficult to solve and much more costly than improving the schools. Our schools are hardly the least effective institution in our society.

Let’s take a look at some of our other failures and I think you’ll see what I mean. Right now, around half the marriages end in divorce and a majority of the half who stays together are very unhappy. There are huge costs in both money and misery associated with so many broken homes.

It is also very interesting to note that while school failure occurs predominantly among low economic classes, marital failure strikes mostly the rich and the middle class. Many couples get sexually involved and have children without getting married. Divorce rates would be much higher if more of them married.

Right now our three domestic car manufactures are failing because the workers and the managers have not been able to figure out how to make a car Americans will buy. Schools often fail because they are both under funded and challenged by student poverty but that is not the problem in the auto industry. They are trying to sell millions of cars below cost, losing billions in the process and laying off thousands of well-paid employees they no longer need. American workers making American cars were the mainstay of our middle class for almost a century. As that class shrinks, many people will suffer.

But our schools, marriages and auto industry are bastions of success compared with our health care delivery system. We spend more money on health care than any other first world country and deliver less care in the process. This system is run by highly educated people who have billions of dollars at their disposal but they are so ineffective that over 40% of our population, many of them well educated and hard working, have no coverage at all. Health care costs adversely affect education, marriage and the work place. But even agreeing on what’s wrong with the system much less fixing it, is no more than a distant dream.

With due respect to the authors of these four articles, they could have written about these other failures as well because the basic questions that need to be answered are (1) Why is there so much failure? And 2) What can we do to reduce it? But if we could answer those questions for Birmingham, the answers would not only be relevant to schools; they would be relevant to marriage, work and health care, literally to many other failures we struggle with not mentioned here.

If we ask teachers, parents and students, what’s wrong with Birmingham, their answers would be clear and simple: each group would blame either one or both the other groups. If we ask husbands and wives, what’s wrong with their marriage, the same thing occurs: they blame each other. If we ask the car manufacturers why their cars which used to sell, no longer move off the showrooms, they’ll blame the workers for asking for too much pay and too many benefits. In turn, the workers will blame the management for poor product design, out of date engineering and exorbitant salaries.

Even in delivering health everyone will tend to agree that it costs too much. But if you ask all the people actually involved in health care such as doctors, nurses, technicians and drug manufacturers why the costs are so high, no one will stand up and say I charge too much. What they will say is that the other group or groups are to blame for the failure even though none of them would be clear on specifics. But to be fair, we can’t expect them to have this knowledge. If they had it, these problems would have already been solved.

The general answer the people involved in these failures use is to go beyond blame and use coercion to try to force the other to change. But even coercion has problems. When low grades, failure and detention were used in Birmingham the students stopped attending. When coercion is used in marriage, divorce or not, the marriage is destroyed. When it is used in industry the workers do low quality work.

In delivering health care, there is no one to coerce. You can’t force people to pay for something with money they don’t have. In desperation, sick people are now clogging our emergency rooms that must treat them or break the law.

Peaceful persuasion, through negotiation, has been the hallmark of what we call democracy for centuries. When we negotiate no one gets all he or she wants but each gets enough to be satisfied, at least for a while. Our whole legal system is based on using a court, judge and jury when the parties can’t negotiate successfully by themselves.

But there is another ancient way to solve our failure problems that could be used in school, marriage, work or health care. That way is education. This gets me back to what initially led me to write this paper. I believe that we can teach people to get along with each other much better than they do now. But it is also true that we, as a society, don’t even attempt to teach in any school from kindergarten through graduate school, what we all need to learn: how to get along with the important people in our lives much better than we do now.

I believe many people don’t even think about the previous statement. They don’t for two reasons. First, they see so many people failing in the schools and in marriage that they don’t think getting along better is even possible. Second, as long as our society seems to function well enough to satisfy the low standards of the majority, we accept large, amounts of school failure, marital failure, product failure, and even medical failure. Most people will read about Birmingham and our other failures and think, that’s the way it is, what can I do about it?

But what if we can easily find a large school in which the students, staff and parents have been taught to care for and support each other and learned how satisfying this experience is. This is now taking place in the Grand Traverse Academy, K-12, one of a group of highly effective public schools, charter and non charter, in which, essentially, every student enjoys school and is successful.

While it may seem that this would be a very expensive, these schools accomplish this for no more, often less, than is spent in neighboring public schools. What they do in these schools will work in any school including Birmingham High. But, please, don’t believe me. Send two of the reporters writing the articles to visit Grand Traverse, talk with the students, staff and parents all of whom know exactly what is going on and see with their own eyes what has been accomplished. I advise two, one might not be convincing.

The problems in marriage could be substantially reduced if we could offer both premarital and marital partners a course in how to get along well together, essentially, using the same ideas that are used in Grand Traverse. Marriages fail not because the partners have never loved each other but because they have not learned how add lasting friendship to early infatuation.

Our car manufacturers fail because they have made low quality cars for so long that they don’t believe that they and their workers can make a quality car. They managed their workers for years in ways that did not build long lasting supportive relationships among the lower managers and with the workers. Right now they are giving steep price cuts to try to sell cars their former customers have lost faith in. Cutting prices is not the way to persuade customers to regain faith in their cars. The customers see the price cuts as a way to sell a shoddy product.

There is a way that has a good chance to persuade their customers to come back without steep price cuts. Advertise and sell the cars with a five year or hundred thousand mile warranty that covers every repair by giving the owner, no questions asked, a loan car until his or her car is fixed.

Americans want to buy American cars and support American workers. American workers can certainly do quality work. They are doing it now for our foreign competitors. If this warranty were provided, both the workers and the management would have an incentive to learn to work together for quality that they don’t have now.

Health care costs could immediately be lowered substantially if we would only provide health care for people who were sick. Right now half of the people who seek medical care have no diagnosable disease which means they have no pathology to explain their symptoms. Without pathology there are no specific treatments. They suffer from symptoms, including a lot of severe pain and fatigue, because they are unhappy. And they are unhappy because they do not know how to get along with each other and still maintain their self-respect.

Basically, all four of these institutions are filled with adversaries. Adversaries cannot design or build quality cars any more than they can build quality schools, quality marriages, or quality health care systems.

So in the end because we are genetically social creatures, it’s all about learning how to pursue happiness together. Everyone who wants to could do this by learning some version of what is now being taught at the Grand Traverse Academy. For a few pennies on each dollar we spend now, we could teach unhappy teachers, students, parents, husbands, wives, workers, managers, doctors and nurses how to get along better with each other and the people they work with.

Add to that group, millions of unhappy people who are symptomatic but not sick, most of them now wrongly labeled with an illness they do not have, we could teach groups of these unhappy people to become much happier by learning how to improve their relationships. All these people are now miserable, not all the time, perhaps, but in substantial parts of their lives.

Teaching what is done at Grand Traverse to the students, staff and parents of Birmingham High would result in many more students, not only graduating but also convinced of the value of education. An education in which, starting in kindergarten, they would learn to get along well with each other. This would not to hard to do at Birmingham because even the group who called themselves the “outsiders” realized what they had thrown away and were still trying. I don’t believe you could convince many of the 500 students who graduated last June that they graduated from a failing school.


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The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.  William James

William James (1842-1910); some saw him as the "father of American psychology."

William James (1842-1910); some saw him as the “father of American psychology.”


God as Coercer


When it comes to God being coercive, we can respond in one of several ways.

Way #1 – If the Bible says it then that is how it is. Sure, He was coercive during those Old Testament times. He had to be coercive to do what needed to be done. I would have been coercive, too, if I were Him.

Way #2 – The Bible says stuff that I am not totally comfortable with, but I am going to give God a break until all the facts come out.

Way #3 – If God is like how the Bible portrays Him, then I want to head another direction entirely. Agnosticism or atheism suits me fine.

The topic of God as Coercer has been an important one for me personally. Choice theory explains human motivation and behavior better than any other theories of which I am aware. And I have come to appreciate God even more as I think about Him actually creating humankind with the freedom and power that choice theory proclaims. It is so significant to me that God did not create us to be his puppets, but instead gave us this incredible ability to decide what or who we will follow. “Come let us reason together,” He invites (Isaiah 1:18). He seems to be saying, weigh the evidence and choose. There is much in Scripture to support this view. And yet, there are passages in Scripture that also portray God in a different light. This different light portrays God as controlling and even violent. Some see a difference between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. God is unchanging, though. Jesus himself said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” (John 14:9) So how are we to view these God as Coercer passages?


For years I have been collecting Scriptural texts that relate to choice theory. I have categories like Survival & Safety, Love & Belonging, Power & Achievement, Freedom & Autonomy, Joy & Fun, Perceived World, and God the Coercer. As I read different stories and passages, some of them seem to step forward and urge me to store them in one of these folders. Of the three “Ways” described earlier, I am most closely aligned with Way #2, although rather than passively waiting for details to emerge, I am on a mission to find out what’s going on with God and the use of force or manipulation.

Here, for example, are some stories of God as manipulative coercer –

And the Lord told Moses, “When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do. But I will harden his heart so he will refuse to let the people go.” Exodus 4:21

The way this is worded it leads us to think that God needed Pharaoh to be a power-hungry jerk, so He touched Pharaoh’s heart and made him jerky. Or how about this passage describing a scene from the life of King Saul, which led Saul to look for an anti-depressant in the form of the musician, David –

Now the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul, and the Lord sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear. 1 Samuel 16:14


Again, the writer attributes Saul’s mental distress directly to God. Apparently, Saul was minding his own business when God sent a tormenting spirit to attack him. These texts fly in the face of God creating humankind with free will and the intelligence to make reasoned choices. It flies in the face of the hundreds of times in Scripture where God or angels reassure humans with the words “Don’t be afraid,” or “Fear not.” And it contradicts the apostle Paul’s clear statement that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.” (1 Tim. 1:7)

The book of 1 Kings in the Old Testament is full of language that makes God responsible for every terrible and destructive action that takes place. When kings and their entire families were assassinated during a coup, it was because God wanted it to happen. If God’s people didn’t obey Him then He would “uproot” them from the land; He would “reject” them; and He would make them “an object of mockery and ridicule.” People will gasp in horror and ask, “Why did the Lord do such terrible things?” You get the gist.

The story of Elijah begins in 1 Kings 17 and even here we see the same language and view of God. Because of a severe drought, Elijah finds shelter and food with a poor family, a widow and her son, in the village of Zarephath. God is miraculously sustaining this little unit, yet when the boy gets sick and dies the mother cries out to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?” (1 Kings 17:17, 18) Her comment reminds us of the way people then viewed the behavior of their gods and the fact that there were uncontrollable forces about that could only be attributed to the supernatural.


I would have expected better from Elijah. I mean, he was one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. And he was one of the few people in the history of the earth to be translated without seeing death. The dude has some rather impressive credentials. Yet when he took the boy’s lifeless body upstairs he then did his own crying out. “O Lord my God,” he began, “why have you brought tragedy to this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?” (v20) Even Elijah had been saturated with this way of looking at God.


I think it is hard for us living in a 21st century secular world to relate to the 9th century BC religious world. If we define religion as a vehicle for humans to access, relate to, and appease their gods, then the world during Old Testament times would have been a deeply religious place. Unfortunately, similar to the Greek gods of mythology, the “gods” of the Old Testament were capricious, arbitrary, moody, and self-serving, even to the point of demanding human sacrifices. “Gods” of that day were thought to control nature and cause catastrophes as a way to manipulate humans. This was the context of the day; not an accurate context, but it was their view of reality. And it was the context in which God had to communicate. I think this issue, the context issue, is the cause for a lot of our misunderstanding regarding God’s Old Testament behavior. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I think this is a part of the answer.

My quest to know God better and to be in relationship with Him is very important to me, and my belief in choice theory is very important to me, too. The two really need to be able to go together. I want to remain open as I continue to search for clues that speak to the extent to which God is a choice theorist. My belief is that God is the ultimate choice theorist, that He invented the concept of freedom and wants us to experience freedom every day. Stay tuned.

“Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, He gives freedom.”   2 Cor. 3:17


Now priced at $17.40 on Amazon; 19 reviews have been submitted. (We're closing in on 20. Yes!)

Now priced at $17.40 on Amazon; 19 reviews have been submitted. (We’re closing in on 20. Yes!)

The eBook version can be accessed at –

The paperback version can be accessed at –

or from Amazon at –

Signed copies of Champion of Choice can be accessed through me at –


An Interview with Jim Roy

This interview took place on September 11, 2014, at Lower Lake High School in Lower Lake, California. Chris Kinney, who led the interview, teaches Social Studies and Technology classes at the high school and has more recently been given the school’s broadcasting program. Besides being posted to YouTube the interview will also be shown on a local Clearlake television channel.

Chris Kinney and Jim Roy

Chris Kinney and Jim Roy

Chris, a former student of mine who completed his teaching credential through Pacific Union College, is an incredible example of what can be accomplished when belief, energy, and commitment come together. He wants to empower his students to achieve success and he sees the principles of choice theory as essential in that process.

After a recent class discussion one of Chris’s students shared the following on her/his Facebook page –

“Ok, I meant to post this last night, but I was really tired. Ok, so yesterday one of my teachers, whom I highly respect and look up to, gave a mind blowing speech on choice theory. He went on and on about how our education system is very messed up and is only a grade, not actually showing off the experience you learned in the class. It’s what your grade says, not what your brain says. He then went on about how everyone in life is only trying to fill their basic needs, which is literally in every case scenario. He then talked about how school is literally the only place that you will be told you fail in your life, and as soon as he said that my mind was amazed. I couldn’t believe how much all this theory made sense and actually should be in all schools. Sadly the state doesn’t want you to have experience and know what you’re doing; they want you to have a good grade on a test or a quiz.”

The principles of choice theory are empowering, and because of that it appeals to high school students, middle school students, and even elementary students. Like Glasser used to say, “There is nothing in choice theory that a six year old can’t understand.”


Now priced at $17.44 on Amazon; 17 reviews have been submitted. (We’re not stuck on 16 anymore!)

The eBook version can be accessed at –

The paperback version can be accessed at –

or from Amazon at –

Signed copies of Champion of Choice can be accessed through me at –


Exciting, meticulous, enlightening, must-read . . .

Dr. Sam Gladding

Dr. Sam Gladding

Dr. Sam Gladding, chair of the Department of Counseling at Wake Forest University and former president of the American Counseling Association, has written the following review of Glasser’s biography for psycCRITIQUES, a publication of the APA. His assessment may be especially interesting to those of you who have read the book.


Theories evolve, but by the time they become chapters in books, they appear to have been developed and are mostly, if not fully, presented as complete. Furthermore, little attention is traditionally given to the theorists behind the ideas. In fact, most theory chapters, and even some excellent books (e.g., Corey, 2013; Sharf, 2012), only briefly describe the theorists behind the theories. Such brevity most likely has to do with word-count limitations and space considerations. Thus, most theory books will mention general facts and turning points in theorists’ lives but not a lot more. For example, a turning point in William Glasser’s life was his initial deep friendship with his mentor psychiatrist friend, George L. Harrington. However, what happened after the friendship grew cold? How did the break with Harrington affect Glasser and the development of reality therapy theory?

What is usually left out of most books and book chapters on the lives of prominent theorists is what motivated them to conceptualize human behavior and psychological interventions in the way they did. Timing and the matter of luck in the generation of ideas are seldom mentioned, such as Glasser’s fortunate naming of his theory reality therapy, which quickly became popular. Likewise, who influenced theorists inside their families and in their family life is usually not considered even though it is often quite relevant. As the late radio news commentator Paul Harvey would have asked, “What about the rest of the story?”

For those who want more complete information about psychological theorists, Jim Roy’s biography William Glasser: Champion of Choice is an enlightening, exciting must-read. Roy gives the most complete and up-to-date examination yet of Glasser and his personal and theoretical evolution.

William Glasser (1981)

William Glasser (1981)

Glasser’s Development

For many older mental health professionals, Glasser is associated closely with the titles of his second and third books, Reality Therapy (1965) and Schools Without Failure (1969).

After all, it was these books that launched him from a state and regional maverick psychiatrist to a nationally known, famous, and at times feisty theorist. For those who have more recently entered the mental health professions, Glasser’s works Counseling With Choice Theory (2000) and Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health (2003) may seem more relevant.

The story of William Glasser starts in Cleveland, Ohio, where he transformed himself from a chemical engineer to a medical school graduate and evolved as he moved west to become a University of California, Los Angeles-educated psychiatrist. Roy explains how Glasser and his theory grew in detail, especially after Glasser settled in Los Angeles and began working at the Ventura School for Girls, the only job he could get after his fellow psychiatrists shunned him for not following the mores of psychiatry.

The exciting aspect of Roy’s work is that he includes the setbacks in Glasser’s life as well as his triumphs. For instance, Roy relates how Glasser was ignored by the psychiatric community because of his opinions about mental health and mental illness and how his isolation affected him. He also gives readers insight into Glasser’s family life and his relationship with his first wife, Naomi, and their children. Glasser wrote most of his initial books by hand on planes because his commitment to his family kept him from doing so at home. Roy also describes how Glasser overcame shyness and an avoidance of public speaking. He paints a picture of the kindness and toughness of Glasser as a therapist, a humanitarian, and as a champion for what he believed in: mental health.

Glasser and one year old son, Joe. (1952)

Glasser and one year old son, Joe. (1952)

Roy does not gloss over what made Glasser who he was and why his theory changed over time, for example, his embrace of choice theory as the underpinning of reality therapy. The fascinating aspect of the book is Roy’s direct reporting of events in Glasser’s life and his insights into how Glasser developed. Roy’s prose is crisp and interesting, especially surprising because he initially wrote this work as his doctoral dissertation. Roy did his homework by reading all of Glasser’s books, as well as his numerous articles. In addition, Roy interviewed Glasser 46 times over five years. He was as meticulous in his own way as Ernest Jones, the biographer of Sigmund Freud, was in his. However, Roy did not know Glasser for as long or as intimately as Jones knew Freud.

The Appeal and Limits of the Book

This book will have an appeal to numerous audiences. First, psychological theorists will find the text fascinating because they will be able to read about a modern theorist struggling to organize his ideas in a coherent and unique way. Adversity and affirmation are parts of Glasser’s life that Roy opens up to readers. Second, schoolteachers, personality theorists, and disciples of choice theory will find a treasure trove of information that will enliven their respect for Glasser and make them appreciate what he did even more. A lesser man would have done lesser things. Glasser stands as a role model because of his commitment to his ideas and achieving results. Finally, readers in the general public who enjoy biographies will find Roy’s text fascinating because it tells an engaging story about a famous man and how he became who he was. The book traces the steps taken by Glasser to rise from obscurity at a school for delinquent girls to notoriety as a defender of mental health.

Overall, the strengths of William Glasser: Champion of Choice are its readability and its attention to detail. This book is a developmental history of an unlikely psychiatrist becoming eminent internationally against formidable odds; Glasser influenced psychology and psychiatry, but he also made major contributions to humanity. The weakness of the book is that Roy’s story of Glasser is retrospective and subjective because much of it was related by Glasser himself, who was 78 when the interviews started. Although it appears that most of what Glasser says is brutally honest, few dialogues of Glasser’s discussions with his contemporaries are provided except in summary form. Therefore, it may be that some events in Glasser’s life, like his break with his mentor, Harrington, were more painful and troubling than what Glasser conveyed to Roy.

Nevertheless, this book is enlightening and exciting. It gives inside information that helps explain a complex man and his thinking more thoroughly. It helps the reader appreciate the battles Glasser fought and often won on his way to becoming prominent. Finally, the book brings Glasser to life as an advocate for the betterment of humanity, especially for those in less-than-the-best positions to speak for themselves, such as children, prisoners, people who are lonely, and individuals experiencing mental distress.


Now priced at $17.32 on Amazon; 16 reviews have been submitted. (We've been stuck on 16 for a while.)

Now priced at $17.32 on Amazon; 16 reviews have been submitted. (We’ve been stuck on 16 for a while.)

The eBook version can be accessed at –

The paperback version can be accessed at –

or from Amazon at –

Signed copies of Champion of Choice can be accessed through me at –


25 Ways to Ask Your Kids “How Was School Today?”


If you are into choice theory you have come to recognize how valuable a well-worded question can be. Not all questions are well-worded and lead to quality responses, though.

The Omaha Sun Times recently ran an article entitled, 25 Ways to Ask Your Kids ‘So How Was School Today?’ Without Asking Them ‘So How Was School Today?’ This regularly-asked question garners pretty much the same answer from kids, “Uh, ok.” So what kind of questions might actually get more than an “Uh, ok,” response? Here are some examples from the 25 Ways list –

What was the best thing that happened in school today?

Tell me something that made you laugh today.

If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Not sit by?)

If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?

How did you help somebody today?

How did somebody help you today?

When were you the happiest today?

Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?

What do you think you should do more of at school? (Less of?)

Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?

If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?

Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today.

These kinds of questions will get more than “Uh, ok” answers and will begin to help us empathize with the lives of our children.

Those taking the Soul Shapers training during the summer at PUC (or those taking the basic or advanced Glasser training at locations around the world) learn about the WDEP method of problem-solving conferencing. The letters WDEP stand for categories of questions that will assist the person you are conferencing with – be they student, fellow teacher, parent, or administrator – to effectively self-evaluate and engage in solving the problem, whatever the problem may be.

W stands for Want or What do you Want?
D stands for Doing or What are you Doing?
E stands for Evaluation or Is it Working?
P stands for Plan or What is your Plan?

There are many different questions in each of these categories that can be asked to facilitate self-evaluation and discussion. The key is that good questions can help your student or your child or whoever it is you are trying to help to figure out what they should do and how they should do it. Good questions also minimize the talking that we do and maximize the talking of the person who should be doing the talking – that being your student or child or colleague.

Examples of questions from each of these categories include –

What do you want?
What is your goal?
What are you willing to settle for?
How do you want your class to be?
When was the last time you were happy?

What are you doing?
What action have you taken?
What have you tried?
When you think those thoughts, what do you usually do?
What do you do between 8:00 and 10:00 PM as a general rule?

Is it working?
If you continue to act that way, what do you think will happen?
Are you satisfied with the way things are?
In what ways have things improved?
Is your behavior helping you or hurting you?

What is your plan?
What? Where? When? With whom? How often? What time?
What would you commit yourself to for the rest of the week?
Can you think of something that would help you put this plan into action?
How committed are you to making this happen?

Whether you are creating a PBL lesson (Project-Based Learning) or leading out in a problem-solving conference, a great question is worth its weight in gold!


William Glasser: Champion of Choice is now available as an eBook and can be accessed at the following link –

Now priced at $17.73 on Amazon; 16 reviews have been uploaded so far.

Now priced at $17.73 on Amazon; 16 reviews have been uploaded so far.


Glasser Biography Now Available as eBook

The screen of my iPad, which now includes the new eBook version of Champion of Choice.

The screen of my iPad, which now includes the new eBook version of Champion of Choice.

The biography, William Glasser: Champion of Choice is now available as an eBook.
The eBook version costs just $10 and is quickly available at the following link –

I bought a copy on my iPad yesterday and the process went fine. I was pleasantly surprised actually on how nice the book looked on my screen, as well as on how well the links worked as I looked through the book. The picture section turned out great, too.

When you go to the Champion of Choice eBook screen, you will be asked to choose an option, either .epub or .mobi format. I had never heard of either of these formats, but Googled both of them and felt pretty sure that the .epub format was best. As it turned out, it was. You are then asked to Add To Cart your eBook purchase. You go through the standard credit card process and then receive a thank you for the purchase message. I wasn’t sure what to do then, as nothing was automatically downloading. I soon received a follow-up email, though, which provided me a download link. Once again, I was given a choice as to where I wanted the book downloaded. One of the options was downloading it into iBooks, which I selected. It downloaded quickly and appeared in my iBooks section like all the books I have purchased through iBooks.

As I said earlier, I am very pleased about how the book looks and performs. It works seamlessly on my Apple platform. I don’t know how it works on the Kindle platform. Maybe one of you can try that out and let the rest of us know.


Thank you, Chris Kinney, for arranging this upcoming event. I am looking forward to it!




The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become.

5 Must-Have’s to Start the School Year

Quotes About Moving On 0234-236 (Quotes About Children) (16)

One – Treat students like they were your own kids
When our own children are at school we want them to be treated with love and compassion. We appreciate it when an adult seeks to know the full picture before simply handing down some form of discipline. It means a lot to us when our child is given more than one chance to be successful.
The law says that schools and teachers serve in loco parentis, which means in place of the parent. It is true that not all parents know how to treat their children well, but as teachers, let’s take in loco parentis to represent the best parents possible. More than once I have seen parents who admit to their child’s teacher that they have no idea what to do with their kid. Besides teaching students, we can help parents, too, by modeling love and compassion and structure to them.

Two – Plan lessons that matter to kids
When we sit down to plan lessons we may need to ask “Why would this topic matter to my students?” One of our biggest challenges as teachers is to present the learning in a way that interests kids. Relevance is the gold standard for all learning; there is no way around this. The fact that some students like to fill out worksheets doesn’t mean that it’s good for all students (it’s probably not even good for the worksheet students). Glasser felt that knowledge you write out on worksheets or spit back on objective tests was throw-away knowledge. For him, real learning had to do with application and answered the question, How could you use it in real life?

Correct Basic Needs

Three – Intentionally create a need-satisfying classroom
Choice theory describes how every human being is driven by a unique set of basic needs. While we are born with these needs, we are not born with instructions on how to meet them. So from birth we are searching for the people and things and activities that help us feel that our needs are being met. Teachers, both elementary and secondary, can count on the fact that students will be engaged in the process of meeting their own needs as best they can. Some students have learned to meet their needs in ways that are socially acceptable and effective. Some students are seeking to have their needs met in ways that are not effective. It is such a huge gift to students when teachers help them to understand the concept of the basic needs and the ways in which the needs can be met.
For instance, you will have students with a high power need in your classroom. Instead of trying to beat their power, though, with your power, think about designing classroom activities that fulfill this need for students. Classroom management based on reasonable structure and procedures, rather than on reward and punishment disciplinary measures, will meet the basic need for freedom and autonomy.

Just remember that human beings are driven to have their basic needs met in six different areas –
Purpose and meaning
Love and belonging
Power and success
Freedom and autonomy
Joy and fun
Survival and safety

These are the areas that we need to be aware of and be intentional about.


Four – Teach for mastery rather than sorting for grades
One way that students can have their need for power met at school is when they are successful in assignments and projects. It is important for teachers to provide students with coaching and multiple chances at improvement. It’s not enough to give an assignment, grade it, and then sort students according to their performance. That isn’t teaching. Teaching occurs when we work to get every student over the learning bar into the success zone.
Get rid of the perception that students should be graded after one attempt. The important thing is that they “get” the concept and can apply it in real-life situations. If it takes more than one attempt to get it, that’s ok. That’s the process of teaching and learning.

Five – Create non-coercive structure on which your students can count
Choice theory doesn’t mean students do whatever they want, whenever they want. Choice theory isn’t based on a laissez-faire approach.
Students, like the rest of us, need and appreciate reasonable structure. We need to be explicit about how things work in the classroom and the order in which simple things are done.

Like Harry Wong reminds us –

Teach the structure, rehearse it, and consistently expect it.

Wong’s new book, The Classroom Management Book (2014), is loaded with over 50 classroom procedures, along with things to keep in mind as you implement them.
Teachers can love the concepts of choice theory, but if they don’t have clear procedures not even choice theory can save them.



Now priced at $17.45 on Amazon; 15 reviews have been uploaded. Can we make it 20?

Now priced at $18.20 on Amazon; 16 reviews have been uploaded. Can we make it 20?

For U.S. customers, get a signed copy of Champion of Choice for $20 + $6 (shipping). Send your check, along with any special instructions (e.g.- if the book is a gift), as well as your shipping address, and I will get the biography out to you right away.
Please include your email address, just in case I have questions about your order. My address is P. O. Box 933, Angwin, CA 94508

Get a signed copy of Soul Shapers: A Better Plan for Parents and Teachers for $17.

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