The phrase “letting go” bounces around in my head constantly and has for years. I first realized the importance of our ability to remain detached when I read William Glasser’s Choice Theory back in the late ‘90s. For so many reasons and in so many ways, letting go simplifies our lives. But as much as I believe in the concept, it’s tough. Human nature is such that we believe we can mold people into who we want them to be. As teachers, we try criticizing, blaming, managing–none of this really works.
Glasser has ten axioms, but this single phrase says it all: The only person whose behavior we can control is our own.
Nancy Buck, who writes a blog on the Glasser site, says:
Everything that we do from birth until death is an attempt to successfully and effectively meet our needs for safety, love, power, fun, and freedom. Although we are driven to meet these needs, we do not know how to meet them responsibly – the ability to meet our needs in ways that don’t interfere with other people’s ability to meet their needs.
Glasser believes our most important “need” is for love and acceptance. That if teachers could shift their thinking in this direction, those constant battles for control would end. I’m not sure I agree with his stance on grades (eliminating all grades but A and B). I know why he proposes this, but I believe that moving away from traditional grades completely serves us better.
Despite a few other concerns with this approach, the idea of letting go appeals to me. We can spend our lives trying to change people, but in reality, we can only change our own behavior. And by letting go, we actually empower our students to take charge of their own learning, take steps to manage their own lives.
Isn’t that what we want for all of them?