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Theorist: Fritz Redl and William Wattenberg

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Theorist: Fritz Redl and William Wattenberg

             The development of knowledge plays an important role in enhancing and expanding the horizons of various areas of study. The researchers who contribute to this body of knowledge are responsible in studying upon new ideas and seeing the way by which this would be useful in the particular field that they are in. This kind of adage could be exemplified in enhancing the field of education especially when it comes to teaching children. In line with these, it is the main objective of this paper to discuss two important theorists who have contributed to classroom management namely: Fritz Redl and William Wattenberg.

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The Life and Contributions of Fritz Redl

            Fritz Redl was an Austrian that was born in the year 1902. His motivation in studying the fields of psychology and education was greatly influence by the people around him. He worked with August Aichhorn, the author of Wayward Youth, a classic 1925 book about treating troubled children.

He also obtained therapy training from Anna Freud. Before the Second World War spread through Europe, Redl emigrated to the United States.  He was able to write numerous publications in German but this did not hinder him in being equally excellent in the English language. A substantial period of his career was spent on the faculty of Wayne State University in Detroit. It did not take long for Redl to have a head on his career especially when it comes to his work regarding troubled children. He is the founder of Pioneer House, which is a residence for delinquent and behaviorally disordered youth. As he was heading the Pioneer House, he was able to develop innovative and sophisticated approaches to treatment. He also actively works for the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH). His reputation in the fields of psychology and education has indeed flourish as he become an in-demand consultant and internationally recognized lecturer. He also received various awards like the White House Citation for his contribution in child mental health in 1965. At present, Fritz Redl is recognized as the “father” of modern psychoeducation (PsychoED, n.d.).

The Contributions of William Wattenberg

            William Wattenberg is also among the personalities that have excelled in the fields of psychology and education. His works contributed in studying and understanding the individual and group behavior of students. According to Wattenberg, the approach of behavior modification has potential in shaping the behavior of students. He believed that positive rewards aid in shaping the most learned human behavior. This could be exemplified by the practices of most teachers wherein they deem that rewarded behaviors will be repeated by students while the unrewarded or ignored actions will be stopped. As such, he deems that desired behaviors could be repeated by selecting appropriate reinforcers (Obiakor, 2001).

Contributions of Redl and Wattenberg to Classroom Management

            The theories that were developed by Fritz Redl and William Wattenberg largely contributed to the study of classroom management. These theorists’ studies included group dynamics, self-control, the pleasure-pain principle, and understanding reality. Their theory regarding group dynamics or “group life in the classroom” could be related to the educators of middle schools at this current time. This theory asserts that it is essential to understand individual behavior as it has an effect on group behavior and vice-versa. Group dynamics explains that middle school students usually imitate the behavior of their peers (Association of Childhood Education International, 2001).

            Helping students to have self-control is also among the theories that Redl and Wattenberg presented. They believed that the misbehavior of students is caused by the lapse in an individual’s control system. As such, educators should give them assistance on how they could regain their self-control especially in instances when they forget, feel uncertain about the rules, bored, or tired. In doing so, teachers are encouraging students to be responsible for controlling their behavior. The pleasure-pain principle is also another approach that could help in molding the student’s behavior. In this theory, teachers provide experiences that will give a range of pleasant and unpleasant feelings. This kind of practice is rooted from the belief that good feelings which are related to desirable behavior would be repeated. On the other hand, experiences that are painful which comes from misbehavior should be avoided. Lastly, Fritz and Wattenberg also have a theory about encouraging students to appraise or understand reality. In this theory, educators could explain to students the relation between their behavior and its consequences. Teachers could use criticism and encouragement in private or public in order for them to make students understand reality. The theories of Fritz and Redl have substantial contributed to classroom management as educators could clearly identify the rules of the school (Association of Childhood Education International, 2001).


Association for Childhood Education International. (2001). Exploring the Foundations of

            Middle School Classroom Management. Retrieved June 1, 2009, from



Obiakor, F.E. (2001). It Even Happens in “Good” Schools: Responding to Cultural Diversity

            in Today’s Classrooms. California: Corwin Press.

PyschoED. (n.d.). A History Lesson. Retrieved June 1, 2009, from



Cite this Theorist: Fritz Redl and William Wattenberg

Theorist: Fritz Redl and William Wattenberg. (2017, Mar 01). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/theorist-fritz-redl-and-william-wattenberg/

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