With this post, I introduce a new series presenting the Sociocybernetic Control Model of Education (SCME) for use in K-12 system change to COACH Live! readers. The twist with this series is that it will be posted parallel to similar posts on MAWMedia Group. The MAWMedia Group posts will detail the organizational innovation. The COACH Live! posts will describe the Individual intervention needed to bring the theoretical foundations and operations of primary and secondary schools up to date.
The posts will be written in “brevity style.” As opposed to full training expositions, brevity style provides an extended outline of the concepts prompting the user to explore the concepts in more depth on their own. As with many of my posts, the extended version of the posts will be collected in a text forthcoming.
Stories: Mauricio & Collin
Mauricio and Collin are pseudonyms of children I met while observing my son’s kindergarten and first grade classrooms. I offer the examples because they illustrate the simple challenge of public education today: Sociocybernetics. Allow me to explain.
Mauricio wanted to be a talk show host. He had an interactive style and vocabulary well-defined for a kindergartener. He turned to the girl next to him an proceeded with an interview I found impressive. Problem was, the teacher had given explicit instructions that the children were to work quietly at their desks. “Maurcio, pull a clip!” the teacher said forcefully, obviously exasperated with Mauricio’s defiance. I felt she missed an opportunity to KNOW Mauricio and utilize his tendencies more proactively.
Collin wanted to be a personal trainer. Not only did she have the insistent need to be out of her seat for any and every reason. She was adept at engaging other children to get up and move. Problem was, the teacher had given explicit instructions for the children to stay in their seats. “Collin, no recess for you!” the teacher handed down punishment for Collin’s insubordination. The teacher missed an opportunity to ENGAGE Collin and took away Collin’s favorite time of the day.
Social Contracts or Maintenance of Order
If I as a teacher had to choose only one to focus on, social contracts or maintenance of order in my classroom, I would choose social contracts. The problem is two-fold as illustrated in the stories of Mauricio and Collin. First, teachers fixate on knowledge of the student as recognition of their problems, i.e. talking too much or being out of their seats. In my observations, they missed the seeing the “problem” behaviors as strengths to build their lesson plans around. Second, teachers seemed unaware that other techniques for social control exist beyond punishment-reward models or direct social control methods. They did not seem to know that indirect social control combines both social contract and order through relationship. Moreover, they seemed oblivious that the structure they instituted supported the behaviors they observed.
The New Model & Family Systems
A new model of classroom management is actually not macro-based. I propose a model of individualized, self-management supported through an intimate knowledge of the student and an intentional relationship with the family system including parents and community supports. It is true that many teachers apply this approach to their work. This is especially true in recent work in special education particularly with children on the Autism spectrum. But, often this is articulated as a trait of the individual teacher, a giftedness that they uniquely possess. This gift must become the model of student-teacher interaction. Otherwise, those gifted teachers may find themselves evaluated less than favorably having strong relationships, test scores, and social control, yet they allow students to self-manage in the classroom (talking, walking, etc.), which looks to an untrained eye like they do not have classroom management perfected.
Strict behavioral modification will not yield the desired results. The answer is a sustainability perspective, operational awareness, and use of ecological practice. Over the next few posts, I will explore the meaning and application of sustainability, operations, and ecology with the individual student and the family system. Along the way, I will outline the latest in behavior change science.
[ Michael A. Wright, PhD, LAPSW is a leadership coach and organization consultant based in Nashville, Tennessee. With over 16 years of experience guiding individuals to their goals, Michael has the techniques and patience to help you succeed. Follow @MAWMedia on Twitter or connect for a consultation at MAWMedia.com ]