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Buddha vs. Gandhi

” If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”                                                                                                Buddha

“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”                                                                      Mohandas Gandhi

As we pondered the aspects of learning and development of Anne Blanchard and Mark Harrison during class, a couple of questions came to mind:

  1. How do you (and can you) differentiate between locus of control and self esteem?
  2. Where should the teacher focus – on the cognitive, on the affective, both?
  3. What are the implications to the learner and to the teacher?

As I understand it, internal locus of control equates consequences with own behavior while external equate consequences with fate or the power of others to control.  While those with internal locus of control are proactive or adaptive in behavior, those with external locus of control are reactive and may not take responsibility for their actions.  Studies over time (Skinner, etc) have suggested that locus of control changes over one’s lifetime from more external to more internal.  From a biological and logical point of view, this makes sense to me.

Self-esteem, on the other hand, is considered a personality trait – remaining fairly constant over time.  This does not make sense to me.  A personal sense of worth or value also has an external and internal component, and can be influenced by external people or events.

Do individuals with internal locus of control have high self-esteem?  Does that imply that those with external locus of control have low self-esteem?  They seem to correlate, particularly in the case of Anne and Mark.  So what do you do as a teacher when an Anne and Mark show up in your class?  It is your responsibility to assess each learner’s self-esteem?  Should you have each student take the Rotter Locus of control inventory we took in class? How would/should you behave differently if you knew?

The role of the teacher most often focuses on delivery of content.  Helping an individual work through locus of control and self-esteem implications are left to another professional, the counselor, social worker, etc.  The counselor does not teach, and the teacher does not counsel.  Interestingly, a student identified with ‘special needs’ has a team of specialists – a great balance of cognitive and affective focus.  The ‘whole human’ is considered in goal setting, follow through, and evaluation. The rest have to fill in the missing pieces for themselves.  Forced internal locus of control.  Is this acceptable?

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