Thursday, February 15, 2007

Nobody Wins In A Draw

There was a child in a first grade class, where I was substitute teaching, who was very unruly. When I asked what his problem was, he gave me the impression that he is on medication (for ADD). "I didn't take my other medicine that's why I'm having a bad day!", he said.

In a different school, I called the attention of a child who was misbehaving. When asked what was wrong, he said "I'm a victim of child-abuse".

I wondered how many times these kids have said the same thing to other people to explain their misbehavior. They are convenient excuses. They are easy to come and reliable. However repeated use of such excuses make them less effective, in fact they become sour.

In chess, this situation is called a draw. A draw can occur when one player repeatedly moves one of his pieces to avoid a mate or losing another piece. Repeated moves occur when one player found success with such move and is now relying only on that one position to succeed. In a draw both players are not capable of advancing because of one player's resistance to take a progressive move.

No one wins in this situation. It may seem safe to end a confrontation in a draw but in reality, both parties end up in a status quo. Progress is hindered when there is no willingness to take risk. The kid who can determine that his behavior is due to his failure to take medication is also mentally capable of knowing that a behavior is inappropriate and therefore should be avoided. As a teacher I feel that I am on the other side of the board. Therefore, the challenge to change the situation in order to avoid a draw is also partly resting on me. It is my role to to encourage this child to make a strong-wise move. Encourage him to be strong and bold in taking responsibility for his own actions and be humble enough to admit that he could improve on his manners. There is one key factor in the success of such attempt: love.

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