Part III Victimization: How We Dodge Responsibility
“You cannot even begin to turn things around until you take charge of your circumstances and accept your own responsibility for better results in your future.”
– The Oz Principle (page 14-15)
We all would like to live the above quote, right? There is a certain fear that comes with change and doing things differently. That's natural because it's new and foreign. However, armed with the knowledge of how much they control, students began to see how much power they had over their present and future. They were excited to change.
The Oz Principle has a great graphic in their book about the six ways that we all find ways to dodge responsibility. The first example is the "Ignore and Deny". This is "where people pretend not to know that there is a problem, remain unaware that the problem affects them, or choose to deny the problem altogether" (25).
Ooooo... I feel like I've seen a few things in the news lately that fall under this category. Because this book is geared more toward business organizations, I will ask you, "Have you or others in your place of work done the 'Ignore and Deny'?'"
"What? There's no problem."
"What? There's a problem?"
"That's so and so's problem. It doesn't impact us/me."
An example in the book shows the direct impact that this denial can have on an entire society. It says that pertaining to adult literacy "nearly half of the adults in the United States lack the literacy necessary for dealing effectively with modern life." Out of the bottom half, "71% of those those" felt that they read well or very well. So, basically half of the adults in the US read poorly, but think they read like the top half of the adults in the US who do read well. They don't even know that they don't do it well and, in fact, think they do it well! Absurd? Scary? Did you just look at yourself and wonder which half you're in and if you're objectively "assessing" your reading skills?
With this knowledge, what would most people do? Say, "That's not me!" and move on with their lives because they think they're in the half that reads well? Pretend not to know, remain unaware, or choose to deny the data? But, does one person's inability to read well impact just the one person, or does it affect more than just that person? Is there a trickle down effect or butterfly effect on a whole organization or even society when one person does the "Ignore/Deny"?
And this is only the first of the six categories of victimization. Can you imagine what the other five are like? Whew!
Knowing the information is only the start of this journey. Awareness, an objective awareness, of the self and self-assessment are key to any growing and building accountability. This is not an easy skill to learn or master and will take time. Take a few weeks to focus on each of the six stages with students and have classmates as accountability partners. Soon, you won't be calling out students on their non-accountable behavior. Since students will understand and know the process, they are able to help their classmates manage their accountable behavior as a team.
Attached to this lesson, I reviewed the purpose of grades and feedback. Most of us go to school and accept that grades are what we receive and if they are high enough we won't get in trouble with our parents, giving little thought to why we have grades. This is where I started with students, if any of them were in the Ignore/Deny about their grades or their skills. School is hard and so is learning a new skill. I really drove home the idea that they were going to struggle and that they were supposed to struggle.
From that moment, students started to look objectively at their skills. It wasn't that they were flawed if they had trouble in my class. It's just that we had some issues with concepts and understanding. Their option was to Ignore/Deny and go on struggling, possibly struggling the rest of their lives, or they could be accountable.
After school, my students knew that if they showed up, I did a re-teach of the lesson from the day. They could have more time to process the information, ask questions in a more private setting, or review if they were absent. Business partners with the school knew that my classroom after school was full; they could never talk to me. Kids came because they didn't want to "Ignore/Deny" that they were confused or struggling. I normalized that it was okay to be confused. Students saw how full it was and knew that they weren't the only ones learning. Kids stopped ignoring that thought in their brain that they needed help. They stopped denying to themselves and to me that they needed help.
True story. One of my SpEd kids was thinking to himself what he needed to finish while walking to the bus stop. He remembered he had to read until a certain chapter for me, so he turned and ran back to my room. He was breathless when he ran in my room and said, "Miss, I never thought I would say what I just said. Someone asked me where I was running to. I told them I had to go to Yoshino's to finish reading."
What a wonderful feeling for them and for me :)
Ready to stop the Ignore and Deny stage? I encourage you to be brave and try. Share with me your results! How has it changed you or your students? Happy accountability-ing!
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