Monday, March 25, 2013

#Slice2013: Day 24 of 31 - Using Shame as a Classroom Management Tool

This morning, I watched Brené Brown on Oprah's new show, Super Soul Sunday. Her research on vulnerability and courage has impacted my life in lasting ways, and I am a huge fan of her books. The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly rank in my top favorite texts of all time.

During the interview, she described an all to familiar scenario that plays out in classrooms across this country.

I have been as guilty as the next person about using shame to regain a sense of control in a classroom. I'm not proud of my actions, and to be honest, I worry about the scars I've unintentionally caused by humiliating a child in front of his or her peers. Shame will change behavior on a dime, but the negative effects far outweigh the gains.

The industrial revolution taught us that compliance and competence are supreme.

Do what your told.
Don't make mistakes.
Follow directions.

Kids who successfully navigate these unspoken rules may manage to escape the damaging effects of shame in the classroom, but what about the outliers? What about the rebels and the risk takers? These kids dodge the flying debris of shame and humiliation on a regular basis, and hopefully, a few of them will rise up in righteous indignation, reminding all of us that talking to children in a demeaning tone and berating them in front of their peers is never acceptable.

Today's message struck a chord. This week I will watch my tongue and my tone. I will remember the fragile nature of a child's self worth, and I will do my best to live by my convinctions. I won't do it perfectly, but I've learned the most powerful words in the English language.

I'm sorry. I messed up. Forgive me.

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