posted 02-08-2002 03:41 PM
For a beginning student, neither behavior nor attitude is present, so one is faced with a chicken-and-egg dilemma. Does one start by adapting behavior, or by cultivating attitude?
I've seen this often when tutoring.
For a student who DOES have some initial familiarity with the concepts I'm presenting, I can guide him through the intuitive leap that takes him from his current knowledge to the deeper knowledge he wants to learn. That kind of guidance doesn't take long, and it's like watching a lightbulb turn on. The student does most of the work with the tools he already has. I just help him arrange the material a bit differently. Relating to the DJ behavior/attitude dichotomy, this is like already having a solid basis in attitude, and taking an intuitive leap to adjust behavior appropriately.
But for the student who has NO clue where he is or where he is going, but only knows that he needs to learn something because he is confused and lost, a different approach is needed. Relating to the DJ behavior/attitude dichotomy, the student does not have the attitude, and so cannot integrate the behavior.
Sometimes I have to help him dig back in his experiences until he finds one that he can point to and say, "Yes, there I understood what was going on." Then we have a basis to go forward from. These kinds of personal experiences can almost always be found if we have enough patience, but for strangers posting on boards it's very hard to do.
Sometimes I use the approach that one does with a child who is learning a new skill for the very first time. I show them first how I do the task. Actually this would be the most effective way to pass along DJ ideas also, but we only have the poor substitute of words, and maybe some movies to emulate. But it is a start to cultivating the elusive thing we are aiming for -- transmitting knowledge.
The next step is to take the child's hands in mine and move them through the motions they must make to do the task. This is only a behavioral approach -- I help his hands "behave" the way they are supposed to. This is like telling a student to wait a week before calling a phone number. It's only a behavior, but it's something that the student can *do*, it shows concrete progress. It helps establish a good habit, even if the theory isn't understood.
At the same time I move his hands for the child, I also describe what the purpose of the movement is. "When you brush your teeth, do ten little circles on each tooth with your brush. That brushes the food away from your gums and cleans the scum off your teeth to keep your mouth healthy." He usually doesn't believe it at first and he think I'm just talking to myself, but with enough repetition, he can parrot back to me what the theory is. Then he starts asking why this and why that. That is when he really starts picking up the theory that brushing his teeth helps them stay healthy. Now it is more than a behavior, a mere motion, it is beginning to get structure as an attitude, a way of being healthy in this case. The child starts to believe that brushing teeth is an essential part of starting the day right.
For the DJ student who starts out clueless, he is told to wait a week before calling, to make the decisions for the date, and to go for the kiss at the end. So he goes through the motions his teachers tell him -- the teachers are moving his hands. No attitude has been established yet, only actions are evident. In fact, the student may not even believe that any attitude change is necessary -- after all, if he just "behaves" right, that is, goes through the motions, then that's all he has to worry about.
Yeah, his teachers keep yammering in his ear about "take charge, you don't NEED women, CONFIDENCE" but it goes in one ear and out the other.
But a strange thing happens. One time while he is waiting for the prescribed week before calling, he finds other things to do with his life besides count down the minutes, because it just seemed like such a useless waste of time to sit around waiting. He uses that time to do something else, and when the right time comes, he discovers he hasn't been thinking about the girl for days. What a liberating feeling!
Then he makes the connection with what his teachers have been yammering all along -- "you don't NEED women in order to have a life" -- and he feels a surge of confidence that he sends through the phone line. Voila. A behavior-come-attitude. The behavior of waiting created a void which needed to be filled by other activity --> other activity took his mind away from obsessing --> lack of obsession created emotional distance necessary for rationality --> rationality is the attitude he needed for success.
Teachers, your students need your help to move them through the right behaviors until those behaviors create voids which need to be filled with the correct attitude. Meanwhile, keep yammering at them about CONFIDENCE and taking charge. You might think it's going in one ear and out the other, and it is, but when the voids become available, your words will easily slip into place, and new attitude will grow.
And then your students will tell you all about this new discovery they made about self-confidence, and how it's all in the mindset. How it all clicks together naturally once you have the right attitude. They'll wonder why the teachers didn't stress that in the first place, because behavior naturally springs from attitude.
And you can just smile and say, "Congratulations, Grasshopper. Glad to have you with us."
[This message has been edited by Rebel Leader (edited 02-08-2002).]