"I lost my points”, he says storming from the room. “That idiot took them away”.
Not, we notice, “I made a mistake”, “I could have done it differently” or even, “I messed up”.
Not what I did, but what I lost. No “I” actually “just a blaming statement about what happened to him and what he lost. No responsibility. No acknowledgement of the role he played in this, other than as victim to the evil point-removing monster. Just what I lost and whose fault is it? His, of course.
Careen pointed that out to me the other day. I don’t know if I had forgotten, or never known. I just know that when she pointed out to me that he was focused on the points and what he had lost, rather than any part he might have played, that it struck me as another reason why I don’t like points in programs.
If the goal of our programs is to help young people develop self-responsibility, then it seems to me that any system which seems to encourage blaming and denial of responsibility is contra-indicated. Not a good idea. Should be banned.
Unless of course, we are only interested in conformity at whatever cost. Unless we just want to “make” them change. Or, of course, unless we are insecure ourselves in what we are doing. Which is also understandable – if we are new or inexperienced in the field. Or old and lazy, maybe.
Okay. Okay. I know I might be perceived as being provocative. And I know I do not have to work the floor every day. But perhaps the distance gives me a different perspective. And perhaps time has made me wonder. Certainly it has given me a lot of time to notice outcomes.
Like the kid who, having learned to comply in the program, realized when he “got out” that the world doesn’t really operate in terms of points and so went off and did whatever he wanted and ended up dead.
Or the girl who realized that nothing was her fault and was still so angry when she was “released” that she took it out on an old lady.
Or the boy who went home and kept waiting for his parents to take away his points and when they didn't, kept escalating until he was controlled by the police.
And to wonder about why we are doing what we are doing when there is so much to suggest it is not a good idea.
There are any number of towns, cities and countries we could fill in for these dots. If you want to see an extraordinary record of many places and regular contribution to CYC-ONLINE, check out HERE
Did you look? You would have seen that every month, never dropping a single stitch, since June 1999 Prof. Leon Fulcher has written an observation through the eyes of a child and youth care person from wherever he has happened to be “and he has never failed to be breathtakingly peripatetic! For purposeful jet-setting, James Bond has nothing on Leon.
This month is his anniversary. This month we can read his 85th “post card” “this one from the United Arab Emirates.
Leon is the author of a number of text books and countless articles in our field. He has worked in North America, Scotland, New Zealand and now the United Arab Emirates, always within the sphere of child and youth care, social work and education, and always open to new experiences, new ideas, new thinking, which he shares generously through the articles he continues to publish in a wide variety of contemporary journals.
He has recently been involved in pioneering training CDs which reflect typical child and youth care scenarios in video clips and which test our powers of observation and interpretation. His latest series, entitled The Living Jigsaw and which is based on the well-known 40 Developmental Assets first developed at the University of Minnesota (see http://www.cyc-net.org/cyc-online/cycol-1299-assets.html) can be seen at http://www.imagesofpractice.com/
Readers of CYC-ONLINE have been able to meet him informally, as he drops us a note from whichever place or project he is presently involved in or just visiting. He is always an example to us in the way he maintains an attitude of respectful observation and learning – wherever he is and with whoever he is.
This month we at CYC-NET celebrate Leon for all that he is and all that he means to us. And we know he will be somewhat disapproving of what we are about to say next: he is also the individual donor who has made, by a huge margin, the greatest personal financial contribution to CYC-NET. Without Leon, we would have “gone out of business” long ago.