A New Education Fad Is Banning Teachers From Using the Word "Please"

It's one of the basic tenets of parenting. You teach your child to share (or maybe not!), you teach them to be kind, and you teach them to say "please" and "thank you." But if the authority figures in their life aren't demonstrating these basic principles, can we expect our children to do so? You know, that whole "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" thing!

One teaching philosophy that is gaining momentum says yes. It's called No-Nonsense Nurturing, and it focuses on "keeping expectations high by only praising outstanding effort." Teachers are the authorities in the classroom and their role is to direct, not ask their students to do something. So rather than say, "When you're done with the assignment, please bring your paper to the head of the class," a teacher would simply say, "Bring your paper to the head of the class when you're done."

They say that the word "please" indicates that there is an option, and by removing it, there is little room for misinterpretation, putting the teacher in the power seat.

Teachers also spend less time disciplining and more time using model students as good examples. As a sixth-grade teacher in Charlotte, NC, demonstrates, it's not unusual to hear a teacher directing a class by saying, "Vonetia's looking at me. Denario put her pencil down — good indicator. Monica put hers down and she's looking at me."

The method is being heralded by Kristyn Klei Borrero, the CEO of the Center for Transformative Teacher Training. She says it is based on the best practices she's observed from some of the highest-performing teachers out there and that it provides structure when students need it most and the results are positive. According to school authorities in Charlotte, where nine schools are using the practice, out-of-school suspensions have declined.

"It notices students who are doing the right thing," Klei Borrero said. "It creates this positive momentum, but also gives the students who might have missed the directions another way of hearing it without being nagging, and also seeing it in action."

But not everyone is on board with this new fad in teaching. Detractors worry that it is less interactive and creates "robotic" students. Time will tell if the new method takes hold, but for now, I'm still asking my kids for "the magic word"!