Monday, November 19, 2007

On Being Compassionate & Insensitive

When people find out that I work with students who have severe/profound disabilities, a common response is to tell me that I must be very patient. Sometimes I am patient and sometimes I'm not. But, for me, patience is not a key to interactions with my students.
If you have compassion, you don't need patience. But the compassion cannot be confused with "coddling". & the best way to avoid coddling is to cultivate a certain quality of insensitivity.

Every teacher needs to understand what his/her student lacks in order to make an appropriate intervention. One needs to combine his/her compassion....the emotion that moves one to accept the student and help the student benefit him/herself...with an insensitivity that will allow a student to reach the motivating state of disequalibrium. Upon reaching disequalibrium, the student is motivated to learn specific skills to "right" him/herself. Self-correction for regaining equalibrium comes through the learned intervention.

So, I think, good teaching, at least for students with significant disabilities, is about balancing compassion and insensitivity for the benefit of the student.

What do you think?

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