An Interview with Dr. Marvin Marshall: Learning, Teaching and Related Topics

Apr 4, 2013 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Marv, I understand that a collection of your articles on LEARNING has recently been published in TEACHERS MATTER by Karen Boyes of New Zealand. How did this come about?

Karen Boyes sent me a compiled list of all my articles published in her publication Teachers Matter. Receiving both a hard copy and a pdf was a complete surprise. Anyone can download the journal at

2) Can you discuss how you “define success” in the classroom?

Success would be when teachers make the curriculum meaningful, challenging, and even enjoyable; when instruction by the teacher is enthusiastic and engenders interest, and when students are both actively engaged is some reflective activity to have the learning enter long-term memory; when classroom management is so smooth that there is no “dead” time; and when all students behave appropriately (think self-discipline) and put forth effort to learn–in large part because of the other three elements.

3) What are the “Five practices of Superior Teachers?

In a nutshell, (1) Using procedures rather than rules, (2) Stating what the teacher wants, rather than what the students should not do; (3) Aiming at promoting responsibility, rather than obedience; (4) Encouraging reflection; and (5) Eliciting consequences, rather than imposing them. The article is at

4) Could you briefly discuss “The Brain, Sleep, and Learning”

Here are a few highlights:

1. While we sleep, our brain is processing information learned during the day.

2. Sleep makes memory stronger and even appears to weed out irrelevant details and background information so that only the important pieces remain.

3. Our brain works during slumber to find hidden relations among memories and to solve problems we are working on while awake.

4. We may ask our brain during slumber for creative solutions.

5. More than six hours (closer to eight hours) of sleep maximizes memory.

The complete article is at

5) How do you bring about “Joy in Learning”?

Learning is greatest when people work with each other-not against each other, as when competing. Collaborating and focusing on continual improvement result in improved quality work and joy because of continual self-assessment and feedback. When the focus is on learning, in contrast to a focus on teaching, this participatory learning strategy can also reduce teachers’ workloads. The entire article is at

6) What do you mean by “Counterwill”?

Counterwill is the name for the human tendency to resist being controlled. This includes discipline in the form of imposed punishments. Teachers should be familiar with this natural tendency explained at

7) Reducing Stress-why is this important ?

Stress reduces joy in both teaching and learning. In contrast, challenges prompt effort. Read the entire article at

8) See It and Learn It- What is all this about?

This article is about visualization and how it can benefit learning. When the history teacher was asked the secret for making the subject so interesting and students so enthused, the response was, “I can tell you in two words: Tell stories.” We remember stories because they paint images in our mind. The brain remembers pictures, visuals, images–not words. You will find the article interesting at

Also, since people are prompted to act by their visions and since people do better when they feel better, success is enhanced when the vision of what you want is prompted, rather than the vision of an imposed consequence. See

9) What other projects do you have in the works?

By the summer of 1013 I will have a 6 – 8 hour course that includes everything and more from my Resource Guide at

10) Where can our readers learn more about you and your books and ideas?

Aside from the link to “STORE” at everything on the site is free to download. C.M. Charles, the author of BUILDING CLASSROOM DISCIPLINE, now in its 11th Edition, says, “In my opinion this body of work cements your position as today’s preeminent authority on teaching and working productively with students of all age levels.”

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