Blame Game E Miller

Ending the Blame Game in the Classroom: Opening Up Dialogue Between Teachers, Students and Families Through Compassion, Relationships, and Empathetic Communication

Elizabeth Miller

Underachieving, disenfranchised, and marginalized populations of students can be a source of frustration and irritation for teacher and schools. These students might bring undesirable behavior to the classroom such as disruption, truancy, and lack of interest in content. Teachers struggle to engage parents and open up dialogue through phone calls, parent teacher conferences, and open houses. Traditional methods of engaging students are unsuccessful. Eventually, overwhelm may overpower the teacher's stamina and bag of tricks. This can result in the blame game. Finger point and unsupported statements suggesting that the student, the student's family, or the student's culture do not value education. These assumption lack contextual support or understanding. They immediately end the pursuit of learning and discovering ways to engage the student in learning while justifying apathy towards disenfranchisement. The driving forces in our educational system are based on normative behaviors defined by the dominant cultural discourse. Assumption of what it looks like to care about education overpower the motivation to discover and unwrap the lived experience of the student and her family. Assumptions can be unpacked and communication can be approached from different perspective for the purpose of providing an approached and successful education. To begin, hierarchical, context-free relationships determine our interactions and communication patterns between one another. The hierarchical relationships simplifies a complex one. By shifting from the participation in the relationship from a hierarchy to a holarchy, complexities, ambiguities, and interconnections will reveal themselves (Volk, 1995). The hierarchical pattern creates dialogical interactions that manifest as the issuing of communiques. This is in contrast to an interaction of true dialogue. In true dialogue both parties are on common search for knowledge and communication passes through a point of empathy (Freire, 1994). The change in relationship and the participation in dialogue can be supported by the introduction of the non-western definition of compassion to the equation. The blame game neglects to truly understand the student and her family's context. The Dalai Lama suggests that realizing sameness decreases separation while encouraging trust, respect and openness to differences (Dalai Lama, 1993). The introduction of compassion could help teachers to see that while they are frustrated with the students, the students are also experiencing this feeling and possibly one of defeat.
References:
Dalai Lama. (1993). The Dalai Lama: A policy of kindness. S. Piburn, (Eds.). Ithica, NY: Snow Lion
Freire, P. (1994). Education for critical consciousness. New York, NY: Continuum.
Volk, T. (1995). Metapatterns: Across space, time, and mind. New York, NY: Columbia.

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