The culture of blame is demotivating
We live in a culture of blame. Everything is someone else’s fault. This idea is reinforced by television, media, and what we see in the news. Frivolous lawsuits, high insurance rates; everything is someone else’s fault. One of the things that kids struggle with is taking ownership for their own behavior.
Why is this a problem? Because if I don’t believe that I am responsible for my own behavior, then I can’t change it. If I believe that you did something to me and that made me do something else: You made me mad; you made me do it – then I have given you the power and control.
Motivation means finding our personal power
If I don’t feel like I have any control, then I can’t be motivated. Why would I be motivated if I don’t have a choice? I can’t do anything because you have the control; it’s your fault. I’m powerless. We’re seeing this attitude become more and more prevalent in schools. Not every student displays this mindset, but it’s definitely an issue that I’ve seen and experienced as I work in classrooms across the country.
You can motivate your students by helping them to understand the power of owning their behavior. If motivation is about personal power, then when we blame, and give away our power, it affects our motivation level. But, when we own our behavior and say, “Okay, I own my reaction; I own what I do about it; I own how I take charge, then I own it.” We are motivated because we have the power to affect our circumstances.
Ownership and personal power equals Motivation
When I was younger, before I understood my own personal power, I would say, “You made me mad,” because, back then, that’s what I knew. But as I learned more about these concepts, luckily before my kids were born, I started changing the language in my house, then I changed it in my classroom: “No, I didn’t make you mad, I may have triggered your anger, I may have pushed your buttons, but you’re the one in control of you. I didn’t make you do anything.”
Ownership. Because if I own it, then I have control, I have personal power. If I have personal power I’m going to be more motivated.
For more information about conflict education and caring communities, see Susan Fitzell’s book, Free The Children, Conflict Education for Strong and Peaceful Minds. Available in both print and electronic versions!