Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Theory Y teaching

More confirmation for the autonomy, mastery, and purpose based classroom today while reviewing Bolman and Deal's classic, Reframing Organizations for an assignment.

Doesn't sound like an exciting read, I know, but it's probably the most important book I've read in my program. And today, in a chapter on the "human resources frame" I noticed how the Theory X vs. Theory Y leadership concept relates to my biology class.

Theory X believes that people are basically lazy and naturally resist change. Leaders in this case either opt for control, rewards, punishments, and authoritarianism, or else they just try to avoid conflict. But Theory Y leaders believe their job is basically to provide the kind of structure people can naturally thrive in, and let them do the rest. In short, they believe people naturally want to hit the high levels of Maslow's hierarchy: mastery and self-actualization. 

Theory X sounds a lot like the traditional approach to school.
Theory Y sounds a lot like Pink's view on motivation: people are naturally motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

I'd certainly rather work in a Theory Y environment. I'm guessing my students would, too.

Bolman and Deal go on to lay out the typical response of workers under a Theory X-type environment:

1) withdrawl, absenteeism, quitting
2) apathy, indifference
3) resistance and sabotage
4) escape to higher positions in the hierarchy

Sounds spookily like traditional school, to me.

And not only does Theory Y lead to better performance, but by reducing conflict, it leads to better relationships. And this, I was reminded by Hattie and Yates yesterday, is super powerful in the lives of kids.

Negative teacher student relationships produce school avoidance and anti-social behavior. Positive teacher-student relationships predict reduced levels of anti-social behavior, buffer at-risk students from adverse home-lives, and can change the whole trajectory of a students life. (They also make teaching a whole lot more enjoyable for teachers.)

So I'll opt for a Theory Y approach.

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