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The Pain of Learning 2

the Emergence Explorer

Questions for the Week of June 18, 2007

Emergence Character Type Babies 9-AI-2

This Week's Questions

[posed by Ed D.]
  • When a student rages at a teacher, is the student in Layer 4?
  • How would a teacher respond to a student in a situation like this without blaming?
  • Is there a way to deal with students who "act out" that does not involve Layer 2 or Layer 4?

Do you know?

[Question 1]When a student rages at a teacher, is the student in Layer 4?
Before I answer, I first need to clarify something. A few things actually. Beginning with two of the words you used. The word "rage," and the word "at."

Let's start with the word, "at."

When you say the student is raging "at" the teacher, I take this to mean the student is directing his or her blame at the teacher. As opposed to directing this anger in inward. What I'm saying is, while it's certainly possible to rage at someone else, you can also rage in at yourself. Thus, you can rage at someone else, and you can rage at yourself, and both can occur in front of a teacher.

For the sake of answering your question then, I'm going to assume this student is raging at the teacher.

And the word, "rage?" How do I define rage?

Again, I am offering this for the purposes of answering your question. How do I define rage? Rage is a sustained expression or outburst of anger wherein the angry person's mind or body cannot contain the full expression of this anger. Thus the excess anger bursts out of the person in an angry rush.

Now we need to ascertain the person's age. Why? Because two year olds can rage but do not have a Layer 4, while fifteen year old students do.

For the sake of answering your question then, let's say this student is old enough to have developed a Layer 4. And for our purposes, let's say the student is a fifteen year old boy.

So now. To answer your question, when a student rages at a teacher, is the student in Layer 4? My best guess? Yes. Older kids and adults, rarely rage without being in Layer 4. And even kids who normally blame inward, when they rage, will be blaming someone. Themselves included. So yes, when a student rages at a teacher, the student in most likely in Layer 4.

[Question 2] How would a teacher respond to a student in a situation like that without blaming? Can a teacher even do this? And what effect would doing this have on the rest of the class?
Obviously, if someone rages in a classroom, most of those present will go into shock. Including the teacher. Thus, even if a teacher has been trained in handling violence in a classroom, his or her access to these responses will in all likelihood be limited.

The thing to remember here is the idea, "that which you resist persists." In other words, any attempt to push the rage back in the direction of the student will only result in the student raging more. Including psychological attempts to logically calm the student down.

At the same time, simply waiting for this student's rage to pass will not be a stable nor supportive response either.

Moreover, if a student has become so unbalanced as to be raging in a classroom, the teacher must do something.

The thing to keep in mind here is, blame is like gasoline poured on a fire, where anger is the fire. Blame the student for being angry and you exacerbate the student's rage.

In addition, as you know, blame can take many forms. Thus, while yelling back is one form of blame, patronizing an angry person with logic is yet another.

Doing either will just make the situation worse.

All this said, the thing which makes your question difficult to answer is you do not mention what the student is mad at. Thus, I have no way of knowing what kinds of specific responses might be helpful. As such, I can only offer vague and general advice.

What I'm saying is, the crux of the matter here is determining the nature of this student's rage. Not the psychological "cause," mind you; that is merely yet another form of blame. Rather, determining the simple, straight forward focus of this student's anger.

For instance, is he or she angry at something which was said during this class? Or did this student walk into class already fuming and angry?

Does this student have a history of angry outbursts? Or is this rage something which is totally out of character for this student?

Is this student involved in some kind of an adversarial relationship within this class? The leader of the class rebels, perhaps? Is she a loner who feels she is fighting the whole world? Was this student recently involved in a romantic breakup? Is he the son of an active alcoholic?

Whatever the case, knowing this student's personal character is the key to knowing how to respond. And while being shocked by an angry outburst normally puts most people on the defensive, blaming the person for having this outburst will only make things worse.

Finally, there is the question of the teacher's internal emotional response. Is this teacher afraid of physical violence? Then the thing to do is to immediately do something to seek help. Having two adults in a classroom in this kind of situation can help. And make the rest of the class feel safer.

On the other hand, if the teacher makes no attempt to help other than to call for help, then she or he risks losing the respect of the whole class.

In addition, if the teacher has a history of having been wounded of violence, then she or he should later seek professional counseling at the next possible time. Why? Because while students raging in a classroom is never normal, yet to be faced fears regarding violent students will have a profoundly negative impact this teacher's ability to teach. Including that the whole class will subconsciously feel this fear and will be profoundly affected.

Bottom line. The teacher needs to know how to handle these situations. But he or she need not feel the entire solution should come form within themselves. Get help.

[Question 3] Is there a way to deal with students who "act out" that does not involve Layer 2, 3, or 4? It seems someone usually gets diagnosed and or blamed.
Sadly, Ed. You're so right. Someone usually does get blamed. Often both people, the teacher and the student.

In addition, many times, in classrooms like this, the teacher ends up feeling more like a baby sitter than a teacher, as many schools fear being sued more than failing grades.

Perhaps one of the best responses a teacher could take then would be to, at the first available opportunity, try to connect with another teacher. Someone with similar experience perhaps. Or better yet, someone who has special training in conflict resolution.

This may even be a good path for this teacher to take in all cases. One can never have too much knowledge and or experience in and around conflict resolution. Thus the more the teacher acquires conscious expose to this kind of thing, the less the teacher will go into shock.

What is important to see here though is that I am not advocating for the teacher to necessarily go get any new information. Dealing with outbursts requires Body First type training. In other words, while words may help a teacher to process what happened later, learning to physically stay present in one's body during outbursts like these is far more valuable than any psychobabble type training.

Along these lines, I, myself, spent parts of seven years attending anger release weekends and seminars. In every case, the focus was on gaining real world experience through consciously witnessing people release anger, rather than on acquiring some new theoretical response.

What made me do this? I witnessed a lot of violence as a kid. So much I used to jump every time I heard a mother raise her voice to a child in a department store.

This made me struggle whenever I needed to help someone with anger. Not such a great thing when you are a provocatively styled therapist.

What may also be interesting to hear is how this turned out for me. The truth? It was probably one of the most important self development things I ever did. Certainly as a therapist. And definitely as a human being.

What made it so important? The fact that without this training and many efforts like it, I, myself would likely be blaming others for their anger too.

So is there a good way to deal with students who "act out" that does not involve Layer 2, 3, or 4? Yes. Don't blame. However, doing this is easier said than done. Why? Because it requires you face both your own anger and your fear of anger. Definitely a heavy task. But a terrific investment none the less.

[Question 4] How would a bored student respond to a teacher without blaming? What effect would this have on the classroom? And on the student's learning?
Start by considering this.

Boredom is one of the most painful emotions a student, or anyone, can feel. Moreover, the remedy to boredom is rarely found in changing the teacher's style. Sometimes. But not usually. So yes. There are indeed some pretty boring teachers.

Even here though, the remedy lies mostly in self examination aimed at finding in oneself the nature of the boredom. In other words, while the subject matter being taught may be dry, and while the teacher's delivery may be terse, the teacher student relationship is the main thing to examine here. Especially the mind body components.

For instance, say the topic is learning the times table. A boring duty for most folks to be sure. Teacher and student alike. Even so, if the teacher is genuinely motivated, then she will find something personal to add. How bored she was when she had to learn this stuff. Or asking the kids which number is the hardest in the times tables to master?

In a sense, the problem here always comes back to some variety of aloneness. Disconnection really. Thus, if the teacher uses the Show First / Tell First Cycle to structure her lessons, then the class will rarely feel bored and this question becomes moot.

[Question 5] As a teacher, how do you lead your students out of Layer 2 and into the Inner Layers (7 - 10).
The key to getting students into the Inner four Layers is always to make connecting more important than information. The thing is, much of what we learn in school lives in Layer 2. Things like the Layer 2 big four; religion, philosophy, psychology, and politics.

This aside, as a teacher, the thing to know here is that making logic or facts the focus will pretty much always disconnect the class. As will watering down the subject matter with touchy feelie stuff. Not that I'm against emotionally authentic things. Rather, I think teaching should always include a balance, a blend between thoughts (the mind) and feelings (the body).

What can make this whole thing easier then is for the teacher to be trained in mind body connection stuff. Specifically, in how mind body connections affect our abilities to learn. From each other. From ourselves. And from the material being taught.

In essence then, if a teacher knows how to employ the Show First / Tell First Cycle, then he or she will have access to the most important part of a student of all; the part of them in which all permanent changes occur. Including all permanent learning.

BTW, should you wish to read more on the Show First / Tell First Cycle, you'll find more at Hollowness in Relationships - More Mind Body Stuff.

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