This chapter was kind of fascinating, looking at it from a psychological perspective. It makes so much sense to me, because I think it's something that we all fall victim to. It's so much easier to automatically jump to conclusions about people's character, than it is to rationally evaluate how the environment is affecting someone's behavior. However, as the authors state in this chapter, "What looks like a person problem is often a situation problem" (180). While it may be easier to jump to the conclusion that there is something inherently wrong with the person, that's usually not the case. As I was reading this section, I kept thinking about those students that I have in my class who continually cause behavior issues. I realized that rather than blaming the student for blurting out an answer or interrupting someone, I should really look at the situation and at the environment that I have created in my classroom; I was simply "attributing people's behavior to the way they are rather than to the situation they are in" (180).
As an educator, it's much easier to place the blame on the student than it is to take responsibility for what I may have helped create. It's a bit overwhelming to try and pin-point what, exactly, it is about certain situations that might cause someone to misbehave. This chapter made me really want to question that and try to "shape the Path" (181). The authors reiterate on page 183 that because it is possible to change the environment then, "no matter what your role is, you've got some control over the situation." This is very important to remember, because often I feel as though I have done everything possible to set my students up for success. So it is very frustrating when a student isn't practicing the "right behaviors." The example that really stuck out to me was the management firm that had employees refusing to use the mandatory electronic time sheets. The executives assumed that the employees weren't using the system because they were lazy or obstinate, when really it was because the paper system was more efficient for the workers. The executives were even about to resort to threats, ultimatums, and punishments: "At that point, the executives felt they'd tried every tool in their toolbox, so they jumped to punishments" (185). Sometimes, it's hard not to feel this way when you're dealing with a student who you have had to continually redirect; the only other option seems to be to resort to those punishments. But, as the authors point out, simply resorting to punishing students every time they act out is not going to get them to really change their behavior (most of the time). It's not going to motivate them to really want to change. Instead, I should take a look at how I can change the situation, rather than trying to punish the student. I'm not sure how to begin this process, or what the answer is, but this chapter has made me realize that I still have some other tools in my tool belt.