Monday, September 14, 2009

Reality Therapy

It's pretty easy to figure out that I'm a great believer in natural and logical consequences.  My own children were raised, philosophically, with the help of Rudolf Dreikurs' Children the Challenge.  From that volume, more than anywhere else, I learned to listen, to give choices, and to respect the development of responsibility over time.  But most importantly, I learned to be a teacher to my children.

When I say, "teacher," in this context, I mean that I recognized that my responses to the actions of my children had consequence.  I was not "dad" to punish.  I was "dad" to guide.  I'll not try to pretend that I didn't ever snap out a response toward my children that I regretted on reflection.  I do know that I frequently apologized for those responses when I had time to reflect.  My children were adults in training and I did my best to remember that when they misbehaved.  Remembering that kept me grounded in my most highly-held values.  The attitude that I carried in parenting followed me into the classroom.

Delivering logical consequences is good for me, too.  Having to "...make the punishment fit the crime..." forces me to delay consequences and to think.  Thinking is good.  Thinking helps balance the heated emotions of the moment against the core values that we wish to teach.  Knowing that a consequence is coming, and knowing that teacher or parent wants to be "fair," scares kids to death.  They'll end up getting what they deserve.  Hopefully, they'll learn something of value.

When I see teachers adding or subtracting checks and stars from the board, or posting misbehavior for all to see, I wonder what they feel they are teaching.  I never, in my whole adult working life, encountered a work environment where I was given either stars or checks.  Had I been given checks for misbehavior, what would I learn from that?  When I performed poorly, I was usually lucky enough to have a boss who took me aside and explained what I was doing wrong and what I should do to improve.  If I suffered, the consequences were typically logical, rational, and usually aimed at helping me improve my overall performance.

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