Bird Droppings June 23, 2012
Why we do what we do?
“Our task is to make our children into disciples of the good life, by our own actions toward them and toward other people. This is the only effective discipline in the long run. But it is more arduous, and takes longer, than simply “laying down the law.” Before a child (or a nation) can accept the law, it has to learn why the law has been created for its own welfare.” Sydney J. Harris
Over the years I have been faced with dealing with students who have continually found their way into trouble. Often in education we use the term manifestation as in is it a manifestation of their disability or are they choosing to do whatever it is they are doing. It has generally been a hit or miss in some cases. How do we know for sure with any kid was this a manifestation of a given disability. Far too often we look no further than the immediate school involvement and bypass the student’s history and all of that time outside of school.
“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.” Aristotle
“Self-command is the main discipline.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Many years ago I spent six months involved in counseling on a psychiatric unit in a state mental facility. There was never a question about why something happened since with combative adolescents which was the term used to describe the unit they lived up to it. When someone got upset they simply went to solitary confinement and were administered large doses of drugs and secured in strait jackets among other totally dehumanizing parifilalia often employed. Little was occurring to change the behavior and or rationalize those behaviors.
“Anybody who gets away with something will come back to get away with a little bit more.” Harold Schoenberg
“Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.” John Trapp
Often as I find a quote the person behind those words has more to offer. Schoenberg is a scholar of music, a prolific writer about great musicians and music. Trapp is a bible scholar with several biblical commentaries to his credit. These great writers who themselves were very self-disciplined.
“THE STUDY OF WORDS is useless unless it leads to the study of the ideas that the words stand for. When I am concerned about the proper use of words it is not because of snobbism or superiority, but because their improper use leads to poor ways of thinking. Take the word ‘discipline’ that we hear so much about nowadays in connection with the rearing of children. If know something about word derivations, you know that ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ come from the same Latin root discipulus, which means ‘to learn, to follow.’” Sydney J. Harris, Strictly speaking
Sitting here looking up references and quotes related to discipline and ending up with the idea of example, to learn, and or to follow, just semantics as we go. In order to operate a public school we have to have standards to operate by and so rules all of the past two weeks we have used the term norms. Looking at this from a behaviorist standpoint it is easy to say ABC, Antecedent, Behavior and Consequence. First you have an antecedent which is that stimulus that causes the behavior. You then have the behavior that which is the event or action that we see feel or hear about. Following we have the consequence which can be what we do in response or what the student or person providing and issuing the behavior receives for eliciting that behavior.
“What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?” Leonard Cohen
“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.” George W. Crane
“To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.” Rene Descartes
It is always about what we do. Over the past few days I have with several teachers and friends been discussing perception. Perception being the how we see and understand events and happenings. One of the categories in writing a behavioral plan for a student is planned ignoring simply tuning out a behavior. Often with no stimulus to keep it going a behavior will disappear. Many times it is getting attention that is the desired consequence of the student.
“People don’t change their behavior unless it makes a difference for them to do so.” Fran Tarkenton
“Physics does not change the nature of the world it studies, and no science of behavior can change the essential nature of man, even though both sciences yield technologies with a vast power to manipulate the subject matters.” B. F. Skinner
I am using a football quarterback’s quote and one from the father of behaviorism, two men from distinctly different arenas yet very obviously similar in their thoughts. Tarkenton has built an internationally known management consulting firm based on this thought. It has to make a difference to the person for them to change. Skinner sees we can manipulate the subject matter, we can offer alternative consequences to hopefully change to behaviors we can except. A Harris line caught my attention this morning as I started on discipline as I thought back to preparing for IEP’s coming up this fall related to behavior, “by our own actions toward them and toward other people.” SJH. So often it is not the consequences that deter or change a behavior but our actions towards the person and those around them, it is the example we set and not what we say that matters. Please as we venture out today keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks.