Compliance or Cooperation

Date: February 26, 2010

Choice Theory and Reality Therapy

Guest Blogger:  Brian Patterson

Dr. William Glasser’s Choice Theory/Reality Therapy is foundational to Ombudsman’s approach to helping students. Brian Patterson, Ombudsman director in Glendale, Ariz., is certified in Reality Therapy, Choice Theory and Lead Management by the William Glasser Institute.

I tried an experiment with a few of my students. As the director of an Ombudsman Learning Center, I am often experimenting. I had a young man named Jean stand facing me. I extended my arm toward him and told him to place his hand against mine. I began to push. He braced himself and pushed back – hard! I asked him why he pushed back, and he replied, “Because you were pushing.” I tried this with other students who had not seen the experiment with Jean and the result was the same.

I have found that if I push, students will resist. Not being pushed is a greater need than even personal success. However, when students found that I was willing to walk with them, even when they were resistant to learning, they relaxed and let me lead them. I found that if I did not demand compliance, I would gain their cooperation. It was clear to them that I had faith in their ability to eventually come to the best conclusions.

As a teacher, I have experienced a personal transformation from a bossy, frustrated teacher to a caring leader, enjoying the relationships with my students. The students in this environment are happy to be at school! The teachers treat the students as valued co-workers and the students treat teachers as respected managers.

Through practicing Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, I have found that the traditional barriers to educational success are diminished or gone. Since we don’t push, they don’t resist. All of that energy is conserved for relationship-building and meaningful learning. My goal is to support, encourage and model positive, lifelong learning.


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