Defiant or Incompetent?
Posted: February 27, 2018
Every now and then, I stumble across a concept that is so obvious that I wonder why I hadn’t thought of it myself. Last week, I read that a good portion of a student’s non-compliance to directions is caused not by his defiance, but by his incompetence: the student misinterprets or doesn’t know how to follow directions. Honestly, it had never crossed my mind that incompetence could be the root cause of not being able to focus or follow directions. ADD, ADHD, yes. Incompetence, no.
We take it for granted that a student knows how to “cut it out”, or “focus”, or “pay attention.” Sometimes he does, but sometimes he doesn’t. The truth is that he’s probably not been taught how to pay attention or focus. In this case, the teacher is partly responsible for the student’s being incompetent. While we have exhorted our students to not do this and not do that, often we have failed to provide them with specific, concrete, sequential, and observable directions that will enable them to overcome their incompetence.
If your junior class is anything like mine, you have kids who stare out at space, play with their toes making sure all ten are still there, pick their nose, or talk and play grab-ass with their next door neighbor. Although we are told kids are capable of multi-tasking- kids can apparently read, watch TV or listen to music, and do homework all at the same time- my experience indicates that they suck at learning Judo when they are multi-tasking: in other words, when they are not paying attention because they are counting toes, picking their nose, or messing around with another child.