Behaviourism Is Not Inclusion
PBIS is just ABA with different letters
P.B.I.S. stands for Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports, and was the foundation for Manitoba Education’s 2011 policy document, Towards Inclusion: Supporting Positive Behaviour in Manitoba Classrooms.
That’s not a typo, the document intended as a guide for creating inclusive schools and classrooms has its roots in behaviourism. The year isn’t a typo either, the document was developed in 2011, eleven years ago. It hasn’t been updated since and it really shows.
In fact, well before 2011, child development and education experts such as Alfie Kohn, Ross Greene, Stuart Shanker, Dan Siegel— and many others — have been trying to educate people on the fallout of only addressing behaviours on their surface, rather than looking deeper to the root causes.
“Stop doing things that interfere with moral growth, things like punishments and rewards, which are rooted in — and underscore a child’s preoccupation with — self-interest.”
— Alfie Kohn
That particular quote was from Unconditional Parenting, a book that was published in 2005.
First, the good
Before I rip apart PBIS, I do want to highlight the positive aspects of this programming, and of Manitoba education’s PBIS handbook.
- The teacher–student relationship is extremely important and takes time and trust to build.
- Non-contingent reinforcement is an essential component of the teacher–student relationship (this is a really ugly way of saying that children need and deserve unconditional positive regard, and that is what is essential to any adult-child relationship).
- Recognize the strengths and skills that each individual brings to the classroom.
- Communicate with parents about what is going well and the positive things the student shows an interest in.
- A well-designed classroom considers the individual needs of students and fosters a sense of security.