Deficient? Detoxing from Negative Framing

equal testing has all animals climb a treeI attended the welcoming reception at the education conference I am at this week – an opportunity for vendors to entice people to their booths with free food. Obviously this works on me because I was there. I enjoy looking for new tools or strategies for our students, so the exhibit hall is a favorite part for me. However, as I went from one booth to another, there was one I hesitated approaching. It was huge, dominating a large portion of the room, but I passed by it several times. I was struggling with first bullet point on their sign: deficiency diagnostics.

Now, I understand the concept of deficiency diagnostics, and the importance of knowing where the gaps are – especially in a mastery-based program like ours. So I forced myself to finally read the rest of the booth’s signs to see if there was anything to redeem the negative feeling.


What’s my hang-up? After years of detoxing kids from negative framing, I find that instead of becoming jaded, I have only become more sensitive. We often get students who see themselves as “deficient” and who need to be “fixed” because of all the things “wrong” about them. It takes time to help them reframe their approach: use their strengths to tackle the challenge areas to the best of their abilities, and focus on their gifts and personal goals to define themselves as the wonderfully unique beings they are.

Maybe there isn’t a better way of saying “deficiency diagnostics” that would fit on a display sign. However, is there a way we can help students recognize and work on areas for growth without them feeling “broken” as a result? Can we – the teachers, parents, and other potential mentors – model this, or are we struggling with this for ourselves?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Also, if you know of any tools, strategies, or other resources that focus on a positive growth mindset, please share them with me.


Connect with Tamra


Gplus  Google+ 

linkedin-icon  Linked In



Patrick Stewart on Violence Against Women

I found this to be particularly touching because he refers to how he couldn’t do much to help his mother when he was only a child, but he can do what he can now. I remember lamenting to my grandmother (my mother’s mother) how I wish I had become stronger sooner. My mother passed at age 56. Also, as with Sir Patrick, at a young age I too became an “expert on the escalation of violence.” So what can we do? Grow, heal, and use our uniquely forged perspectives to grow and heal the world.

Standing on the Side of Compassion, Love, & Logic

Jonathan Lovingly Taketh His Leave of David by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Jonathan Lovingly Taketh His Leave of David by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Watching the discussions, hearing concerns expressed, and I am often asked for details on why I land where I do regarding Marriage Equality.  Here are some points to consider:

Marriage being 1 man, 1 woman, and a “2000 year tradition”: In this country, this has been the legal status only since the mid 19th century. Many immigrants, and many people indigenous to this continent, were in marriages of more than two partners — usually polygamy.  Perspectives of homosexuality varied depending on the culture/religion of a particular group. And if you want to go back before this country, even before 2000 years, check out Ancient Greece — a society upon which many of our laws and values are founded.

Bible saying sodomy is a sin:  1) Most of the world isn’t Christian. 2) This form of sexual relations is not exclusive to homosexuals.  3) If the couple is Christian and believes this is a sin? Just like it is not the only option available to heterosexual couples, sexual intimacy can come in many forms for homosexual couples. Use your imagination.

Bible saying it is an abomination: 1) See #1 of above.  2) Go back to the earliest interpretations of Leviticus and you find different meanings.  Leviticus seems to be OCD — a don’t mix your peas with your mashed potatoes type of guy (thanks Cass for that analogy).  Leviticus is also adamant that you don’t wear clothes of mixed fibers. Now go check the tags in your wardrobe. The only thing clear about that passage is saying that you just don’t have relations the same way or in the same place — not that the relations themselves are a problem (those extra words such as “abomination” were added later by those wanting to force a particular interpretation).  Oh, and there’s even debate as to whether or not the passage was even talking about sex. Really.

Slippery slopes: 1) You do realize that this is a logical fallacy? 2) Marrying a fellow human being who is a consenting adult will not lead to marrying inanimate objects or other living creatures unable to give their consent — any more than current allowances to marry have already done.  3) Will marriage rights for same sex couples cause us to then reestablish legal rights to polyamorous relationships? This moves us from slippery slope to begging the question: does that matter?

Women having the right to own property (and thus not be destitute from a divorce); people being able to marry within their race; people allowed to marry outside of their ancestral ethnicity; and now people marrying partners of the same sex…. it appears that we continue to expand rights and freedoms with regard to marriage and could very likely continue to do so.

Marriage can have two parts: the legal contract, and a personal/spiritual/romantic component.  A marriage can exist with only one of either of these parts.  Atheists marry, people of many religious beliefs marry, and they might even use a word other than marriage, but marriage is happening regardless of the access to the legal contract portion.

So, with all of the above in mind, and even setting aside the emotional arguments, the only thing we are doing by *not* having marriage equality is telling one couple they can enjoy the benefit of certain details of their contract, while not allowing another couple access to the same benefits and protections from their contract.  The limitations are based on the sex of the contract partner, and as such is a form of sexual discrimination.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding marriage equality. We cannot be sure on how they will rule, but even if they do not decide now to extend rights at a federal level, this will likely happen within the next generation or two.  Surveys are showing that over half of Americans favor marriage equality, and 80 percent of adults under 30 are fine with it, meaning their children will likely not see a problem with it either.  Unless something catastrophic happens, it is not a question of “if” but of “when.”