Applying Glasser's Choice Theory to Classroom Management

Applying Glasser's Choice Theory to Classroom Management
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  • 0:03 Glasser's Choice Theory
  • 0:40 Choice Theory
  • 3:06 Classroom Applications
  • 4:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we investigate the work of the American psychiatrist William Glasser and his pioneering choice theory and how to apply it in a classroom setting.

Glasser's Choice Theory

In life, there are needs and there are wants. For example, I need to drink water to live, but I might want to have a cola or a beer instead. Cola and beer are things that I like, but they're not necessary to my survival. Physiologically speaking, needs and wants are rather clear-cut, but the difference between needs and wants in a psychological sense is up for debate. In this lesson, we'll explore what the psychiatrist William Glasser considered to be social needs, and we will examine how his approach can be applied in the classroom.

Choice Theory

Born in 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, William Glasser was an American psychiatrist who held considerably different beliefs than many psychiatrists of his time. He originally studied to be a chemical engineer, but Glasser went back to school in 1947 to become a psychiatrist. Over the course of his career, Glasser published extensively on behavioral psychology and educational techniques, and he developed his own style of therapy called reality therapy. This unique therapy eschewed the idea of mental illness and instead advocated teaching patients to take responsibility for their behavior, encouraging them to take real steps to improve their circumstances.

Glasser is perhaps best known for his 1998 book, Choice Theory, which details his perspective on how humans behave and what motivates us to do the things we do. According to this theory, a person's immediate needs and wants, not outside stimuli, are the deciding factor in human behavior. Moreover, Glasser identifies five basic social needs that all humans have:

  • Survival
  • Love and belonging
  • Power
  • Freedom
  • Fun

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