I didn't complete this blog post because...

In the Some of Nothing household, Sunday is a day of rest and pugilism. Sadly for me, however, Sunday at 3am was not very restful (or very pugilistic, for that matter). And as I was lying awake in bed knowing full well that the alarm would sound as soon as I closed my eyes, I started thinking about frustrations I was having outside of my inability to sleep. After wallowing in feelings aimlessness for about an hour or so, I eventually got around to contemplating the issues I'm having with my 12 year-old disciple and her recent progress report.

My disciple and I have been working together twice a week for over 2 months now, and results have been decidedly mixed. It took some time for us to establish solid lines of communication (ie, for me to bend her to my will), and keeping those lines in good working order is an ongoing challenge. But on the positive side of the ledger, she's made some important academic achievements. For example, she's moved from the easiest math group in her class up four levels to the 2nd hardest. She made it into the top tier in her recent class spelling bee and was one of three chosen to participate in a Latinate bee. And for the first time, she's had several examples of her work posted on the board by her teacher. Many of these accomplishments would have been unthinkable a few months ago, so I should probably look on our efforts together as time well-spent. But then there's the progress report.

Finally eschewing the middling grades of Bs and Cs, my young disciple's latest assessment now fluctuates between series of As and Fs--or, more accurately, 100s and zeroes. Missing assignments constitute almost a third of her report. This is unacceptable.

So, at 4:30am on Sunday, I was lying in bed devising strategies to resolve this problem. Earlier in the week, MFP suggested having her, her mom, and me sign a contract detailing everyone's roles and responsibilities in this arrangement. Apparently, one of MFP's kid-having co-workers told him about how this stratagem works in kiddie softball, and Google indicates that the trilateral contract seems to be all the rage for schoolwork too. So, a contract, it is. But given the magnitude of the problem here, I started thinking that a contract is just the beginning. I started thinking that for every assignment my disciple misses, she should be obligated to provide a written detailed explanation of why she missed that assignment. Such as: "I, 12 year-old disciple, failed to complete and turn in my assignment, Triangles: Why They Are a Sign of the Devil, because I chose to play computer games instead. Specifically, I played WoW for one hour, Fallout for 45 minutes, and...".

But then it occurred to me. I should do the same thing for all my own missing assignments. All of the blog posts I started but didn't finish. All of the designs I created but didn't use. All of the ideas I had but didn't follow through on. All of the things that keep me up at 3am.

And the longer I thought about this plan, the more I liked it. And the less I liked it. Because, if I'm honest with my explanations, they would all say something like: "I, slag, failed to complete and post my blog post, The Tao of Overcorrecting, because it sucked. Suckety suck suck sucked". And really, who wants to read that?

Nothing New byslag at 10:33 AM

3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here):

Gye Greene said...

"because it sucked. Suckety suck suck sucked".

Would make a good rap.
("Because it sucked [Sucked!] // Suckety-suck suck sucked")

"And really, who wants to read that?"

Me!!! Me!!!

I think the technical term for those types of contracts are "contingency contracts" (it was in my lecture slides last semester; I had to Google the topic to lecture on them properly). Part of behavioral modification therapy -- works for lotsa stuff, including weight-loss, exercising programs, re-offending, etc.

Works better to have both rewards AND punishments included. :)

Good job on the the whole disciple thing. Does your disciple call you ''Master Slag'', and seek wisdom? (e.g. ''Master... what is... 'anger'?'')


slag said...

"And really, who wants to read that?"

Me!!! Me!!!

One word for you, my friend: outlier.

"Works better to have both rewards AND punishments included. :)"

Interesting...I'm focusing on rewards right now. My leverage for punishment is pretty miniscule. Mostly just guilt/shame, which--to my disciple's credit--does seem to work.

And yes, I actually make everyone call me "Master". Unsurprising.

Herry said...
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