Who has it; who doesn't.
What who has it does with it.
What who doesn't have it does and doesn't do as a result.
This is about what to do with classroom power and why.
I have it.In my classroom I am both in authority and an authority.My students don't have it.
I decide what I will teach.
I decide what students will learn.
I decide how they will learn.
I decide what they know.
I decide where they can go next.
I have power over their student lives.
I have power over their professional futures.They know they don't have it.You know them.
They are dependent.
They are vulnerable.
They are scared.They learn the Safe Way.If not
They assume the position.
They wait passively to be patted down.
They wait for the handcuffs.
They try to work out my peccadilloes.
Then they suck up.
They are supposed to ignore what they know.
They are supposed to ask no dumb questions.
They are supposed to fight their subjectivity.They get the dreaded D, the fateful F.
Good.That's the way I like it.They sit quiet.
They better do what I want.
They better do it the way I want it.
They better do it when I want it.
They better know what I think is important.
They better give my own expert words back to me.
They better get it right the first time.
Second chances are for losers.
They can't get a B if they do it any other way.
They go outside my rules, and I stomp 'em.
That's the way it is in the real world.
Get with the program.I structure with overheads.I couldn't do any of this without classroom power.
I don't use handouts.
If I did, they wouldn't come to class.
They'd just photocopy them.
I give them theory, theory, theory.
If they can't apply the theories, they won't get anywhere.
To keep them honest, I give snap quizzes, tests.
They have to know this stuff.
I mark them hard.
I don't want people who look at my grade sheets to think I'm easy.
I have high standards.
Students have to feel pain to learn.
They'll value what they learn all the more.
When they get a B from me, they know it means something.
I never give A's.Without it, the discipline of learning is lost.Professor power.
When they go to other professors, my students look undisciplined.
I look bad.
Student fear is crucial to student learning.
That's the Hard Way.
The fear we learned.
Fear of poor marks.
Fear of comparison.
Fear of failure.
Our students will teach their students the same way.Teach straight and hard.
Test straight and hard.
Don't give an inch.
Let me start again.
Today I am talking to you about classroom power.
Who has it; who doesn't.
What who has it does with it.
What who doesn't have it does and doesn't do as a result.
This is about what I do with classroom power and why.
This is about what that has led to for my students and for me.
I have it.
I give it away.
I decide no grades, no marks.
I free students to learn.
Why and how did that come about?
In 1982, my students were bored.
I was bored. We were bored.
Evaluations said knowing content just to know it was boring.
Students and content butted, the weakest of joints.
What fostered butting and what dovetailing?
Stressing syntheses led to the flat and merely adequate.
Stressing students' personal practical knowledge, results were rich with connection, with insight.
How do I do this? How do I get them there?
To make better-informed, well-argued personal curriculum decisions?
I say connectwho you are as you
who you are as teacher
the course content
Connectconnectconnect. Only... connect.Not as an instrument.
You are not a tool.
This is not about how but about who.
This is about you.
Your journals. Your experiences. Your stories.
They sent me this (from Valerie O'Hara, 1984):Day twenty-two
know do feel
do feel know
feel know do
Do you feel and then do?
Do you do and then feel?
From doing and feeling do you know or is it:
feel or do
Do you have to have one main pattern of operation? Is it possible to follow all 3 patterns at different times in different circumstances for different moods? THE TASK: to know myself! But I am so diverse at different times for different circumstances that I find this a formidable task! And do I really want to truly know myself or do I just want to enjoy the mystery?Student subjectivity precedes objectivity.Ontology before epistemology.
This is not about how but about who.This is about you.
Your journals. Your experiences. Your stories.You.
When we get personal, to the "I",
in my classrooms, everyone becomes vulnerable.
When students openly express their real questions, their ignorance, their doubts, they are taking the risk that someone will jump down their throats, will tease them, embarrass them, laugh at them. It is a scary thing I am asking them to do. And not only do they become vulnerable,I do too.
And they get it. And they do see me, too. This, from Margaret Britton (1996):In those journals, I have 25 sets of honesties, unknowns, worries and egos in the palms of my hands. If I am over-tired or if I am hard-hearted or if I don't read their body language right (and reading body language online is possible), I can bring the whole fragile construct down about everybody's ears.
we gathered in the lecture hall,
waiting, on curved edges
while he climbed the 3 podium steps
we opened our writing pads,
wondering what this man might say
he adjusted his glasses,
lacing his parchment fingers together,
before he spoke of his life,
of all that he'd learned
well, he said, when I was only 50
I careened down green-tangled slopes,
past children wearing somersaults,
through the arms of silver cartwheels,
and landed wrong-side up
against the prairie sky
then he stopped
finally, from some row of faces,
amid pencils perched suspiciously
a single person asked
is that all?
why no, he said, of course not
on that very scorched July day,
I climbed to the top again,
and careened back down
the green-tangled slopes of fifty
gathering his notes,
into slit-edged pockets
of his dinner jacket,
he shuffled off-stage
I cannot go back to the way it was.
Yet I still have the power.
I use it.
So I create a safe learning environment in my classes, with vigor in the rigor. That is for Lecture #2.
A summary drawn from personal notes of Robin Enns (2002), The New Manual for Life (Wong and McKeen, 2001) and Ben & Jock: A Biography (Fewster, 2001).
A few days ago I finished one of the most enriching personal and group experiences of my life, a six-day “ComeAlive” course at The Haven on Gabriola Island, just off Nanaimo, BC. I left The Haven and flew to Seattle, thence to Snohomish, WA, to visit with my son and daughter-in-law, for a fortnight. This visit is affording me the time and space to reflect on my ComeAlive experience, to email some of the members of the group of which I was a part as well as some friends and family back home, and to hear again the CDs of the music and concert I danced and listened to. In the last couple of days, I have found myself describing more vividly what I experienced, as I move gradually from feeling the experience to explaining it. Finally, over the past half dozen hours, I have taken the time to put it into some sort of “this leads to that” sequencing (accepting that such an organization is artificial and distorting, because, as one of the books says, the actual experience is a “soup”, with no beginning or end). However, it is part of the way that I make sense of and keep in mind my experiences.
What I offer you is my personal summary of the ComeAlive, while at the same time preserving the confidentiality clause that I, along with my group, signed at the start of our process. As it is not an academic piece, I will not attribute my quoting or paraphrasing from the other sources noted above. Because it is a personal piece, I am writing it in the first person. In this way, I can write from my heart to yours.
The Communications Model
Each time I enter a new relationship, I carry with me a context that is based on my recent and distant past experiences. These experiences colour my behaviours in the relationship. For example, if I have been having a bad day and feel irritable, when I meet a new person, I will begin my interaction in a negative frame of mind. Further, if I have been feeling buoyant and happy and then enter a difficult situation, I will approach it in a positive frame of mind.
My context is the background against which I view immediate situations. I can therefore benefit from a periodic checking with my internal world to see what my context is. I am better off not to take my context for granted, as it can shift and change. If I just take a moment to close my eyes to investigate my thoughts and feelings, I will form an impression of the background I carry in to the situation. I will likely find that apparently trivial experiences, such as repetitive thoughts, vague impressions and coincidences will be colouring the situations I enter. In fact, the context will even influence my choices in the infinite variety of perceptions of those which I will decide stand out.
As I open my eyes to observe the person in my new relationship, I begin to absorb information about that person. In just a few seconds, I will take in hundreds of bits of information through my five senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. None of these hundreds of pieces of information means anything, they are simply the results of the stimulation of my nervous system. I experience them in my brain only as raw sensory data: colour, sounds, scents, flavours and texture. Note that these are impressions – a hint of perfume, a whisper, a grimace, a clothing combination – from the body of the person I am relating to. These perceptions do not mean anything in themselves; I do something with them to make them mean something. I interpret. While the perceptions are sensory, my interpretations are mental operations that provide me with meaning.
As I observe the person (“you” for ease of writing this) I am relating to, I keep in mind that I am assembling an overall picture, which I interpret. Here is a key point: it is critical to remember that my interpretations are neither right nor wrong: they are my best guess at the meaning of the impressions of you that I am collecting. My interpretations (and everyone else’s) are never right. And then another key point: I want to be right! I form judgments based on raw sensory data from you, and then I act as if they are true. However, to have a true relationship with you, I need to check out my interpretation with you, by seeking agreement or disagreement with each interpretation I make. I therefore check with you to see if my version of you matches your version of yourself. Note that even if you agree with me, I am not right; we simply agree! If your opinion differs, I am not wrong; we simply disagree! Another key point: when there is a difference in our interpretations, we do not have to agree; instead we can become curious about the different viewpoints we have, and learn more about ourselves and each other. This attitude of curiosity with no right or wrong permits an openness to ongoing learning, whereas to become fixated on who is right or wrong beings learning to a halt.
I was taught to use a direct particular concrete language to operate my perceptions when I relate to you. I say: “I see …(your tears)”, “I hear…(your gruffness)”, “I smell …(your hair)”, “I taste … (the saltiness of your cheek)”, and “I feel …( the calluses on your hands).”
Further, I was taught to use some common phrases to check my interpretations of you with you. I say: “I interpret that you are frustrated.” “I believe that you are really happy.” “I think you are grumpy.” “I assume that you find this is difficult.” “I imagine that you are uncomfortable.” “I judge that you are trying very hard to communicate.” “I speculate that you are thinking about something else.” “I fantasize that you are feeling very young.”
Interpreting is a mental operation that involves thinking. A common mistake is to confuse interpretations with feelings. Thus the phrase “I feel that you are …” never describes a feeling; instead, it is a misrepresentation of “I think you are ….”
I am often afraid to express my interpretations because the idea of judging you has taken on negative overtones during my prior experiences over time with others. Yet judging (interpreting) you is merely my way of making sense of information so that I can get to know you more profoundly. Judging you does not necessarily imply a rejection. In fact, pure judgment simply involves drawing distinctions so as to make sense of the random data I get from meeting you. It is from my interpretations of this sense data that all my feelings come; that (and checking them with you) determines whether I wish to move toward or away from you.
Based on the interpretations I make after checking with you, I develop my feelings. Feelings are experiences in the body involving changes in blood flow and energy shifts. There are basically two kinds of feelings: positive and negative. Positive feelings involve an opening of the blood vessels and are associated with a sensation of warmth and well-being. Negative feelings involve a contraction of the blood vessels with an accompanying sensation of tightness, coolness and discomfort.
Positive: when I sense this positive feeling about you, I feel like moving toward you. I express it in these words: “I like you.” “I am drawn to you.” “I am attracted to you.” “I feel comfy with you.” “I feel close to you.” “I feel warm with you.” “I love you.” The overall experience is one of feeling close and comfy with a desire to move toward you.
Negative: when I sense this negative feeling about you, I feel like moving away from you. I express it in these words: “I am uncomfortable with you.” “I dislike you.” “I am repelled by you.” “I don’t like you.” “I am afraid of you.” “I hate you.” The overall experience is one of feeling distant and discomfort with a desire to move away from you.
A key point is that a negative feeling does not imply that you are bad or wrong; it simply reflects the judgment that there is a negative feeling within me, which for some reason makes me experience a desire to move away. Negative and positive feelings involve choice and valuing. They do not say anything about your worth, but speak rather to the valuing process within me: my feelings.
Another key point: the feelings I have are entirely based on my context and interpretations. The same perceptions can be coloured differently, given different contexts and interpretations and it is possible to feel positive or negative about any perception. The feelings are determined by the interpretation of the perceptions.
An intention means the conscious use of my will to translate my feelings (composed of my perceptions and interpretations) into action. I do this by using such phrases as “What I feel like doing is….” “What I intend to do is ….” “What I want to do is ….” “What I will do is ….” A key point is that I do not ever have to follow a feeling; I have free will – I can decide to act opposite to my feelings. I can always learn in a situation, whether I follow my feelings or not. Another key point is that, in reaching a decision with you, I should always be ready to ask “What is your intention in telling me this?” This question gets our interchange to deeper meaning. For example, if your intention was to express anger with me to clear the air and to become closer to me, I might be interested in staying to face your anger. On the other hand, if your intention was simply to try to intimidate or get control of me, I might not want to stay engaged.
A key point in my moving toward or away from you is the language I use. I move not because “You made me”, but “Because of what I interpreted -- I thought …, I felt…, I intend….”
Once I become clear about my perceptions, interpretations, feelings and intentions, any decisions to act will be uncomplicated, easily understood by you, and more effectively executed. I will develop an increasing responsibility for myself and my inner strength will grow. More and more, I will recognize that I am constantly creating my own reality.
As I remarked at the start, these concepts are set out here in a linear, sequential fashion – however – they usually occur simultaneously. I can start anywhere and relate the other elements as they come up. There is no right way or order to relate to you with all of these points. I must just jump in and describe to you what I find!
When I use the Communication Model, I am able to be present with you in the moments we are together.
When I am present with you in the moments we are together, my purpose is to share my Self with you.
When I share my Self with you, I strive to engage in the purest form of honesty.
When I engage in the purest form of honesty, I act with full, non-strategic disclosure and own my beliefs and experiences.
Dear group -- JC, JE, VP, SS, BM, DR, RE, CE, MS, TM, PM, LS, BD, PP, AM, RK, PA, CN, MM, RK, DC, LC, JS, AL, and AC, LW, DA: I really wanted to write a poem to complete this with, and I found one already written in The New Manual for Life, written by Larry Gold.
I’ve had the joy of others experiencing my pain
Been held, told by strangers that I am loved.
I’ve searched my soul, experienced my anger and sorrow.
I feel whole and yet there remains a void that needs to be filled
The fullness that only comes from experiencing the special love
And intimacy of one human being caring for another.
It is now easy to write and speak of love.
Even if it be in the abstract and uncommitted to a single soul.
I reached out my arms and cradled people who, hitherto I would
have felt unwarranted of my time.
I’ve heard the screams of hurt; sobbed and felt their pain and my own.
I’ve come alive with the realization that life has its origins
in the interconnectings of the human spirit.
And when we become alone and unwilling to reach out and share that spirit,
We have allowed ourselves to die.
My fortune is that I am me. My salvation is that there was you.
Back To Part I