Industrial Age vs. Information Age

Two very different classrooms

On this page you will find a comparison between traditional classrooms established according to the demands of an industrial-age or factory economy, and win-win classrooms adapted to the needs the information age, particularly as these differences correspond to classroom values, priorities, motivators, authority relationships, desired (encouraged) student behaviors, and discipline goals.

Industrial Age:
The Traditional Classroom

Values, Priorities & Motivators

• Uniformity, sameness; fitting in.
• Stability, permanence, security (rigid roles)
• Competitive
• Motivation for cooperation: pleasing authority (approval-seeking), avoiding punishment, humiliation, rejection, disapproval; oriented to adult and adult’s reaction
• Outcome or product orientation
• Pleasing others regardless of personal needs
• Perfectionism
• Black-and-white thinking (or all-or-nothing thinking, dualism); tunnel vision
• Past or future orientation
• Personal worth is dependent on achievement, appearance, wealth, performance, etc.

Information Age:
The Win-Win Classroom

Values, Priorities & Motivators

• Diversity, personal potential and unfoldment; growth potential, personal fulfillment
• Flexibility, choices, personal control, (variable roles, expectations)
• Cooperation
• Motivation for cooperation: personal satisfaction; curiosity; positive consequences or outcomes that are unrelated to adult’s reaction; oriented to student
• Process or person orientation
• Self-care; doing for others with regard for personal needs
• Mistakes seen as a necessary and valuable part of growth
• Many options and alternatives; ability to see various points of view
• Present-time orientation
• Personal worth is unconditional, regardless of achievement, appearance, performance, etc.

Skills: Student Behaviors that are Encouraged or Reinforced

• Following orders, obedience, people-pleasing, asking permission, compliance, dependence
• Listening
• Respecting authority relationship while protecting existing hierarchy or power structure
• Avoiding conflict; peace at any price
• Self-sacrifice, self-abandonment; putting others first even at cost to self
• Not making waves; maintaining status quo
• Ability to “stuff” feelings, appear “fine;” impression management; blaming, making others responsible for how you feel
• Following; may include acceptance of imposed values without question or without regard to personal values, integrity
• Dependence on leader (credit or blame)

Skills: Student Behaviors that are Encouraged or Reinforced

• Taking initiative, making decisions within limits of rules or boundaries; self-caring choices
• Communicating
• Respecting authority relationship while networking, negotiating
• Personal integrity
• Self-care; maintaining personal boundaries; service and consideration with respect to personal needs
• Taking risks, trying new things; innovating
• Expressing feelings honestly, responsibly and non-disruptively
• Operating according to a personal value system as long as no one’s rights or boundaries are violated
• Assuming personal responsibility; teamwork

Authority Relationships

• Reactive
• Power-oriented; punitive
• Win-Lose (powering or permissive)
• Command-oriented; demands; few choices offered
• Teacher sets limits and determines what is and is not negotiable; enforces rules
• Student empowerment discouraged; initiative often punished or criticized; perceived as a threat to adult authority
• Manipulative
• Purpose for rules and boundaries power-based: “Because I said so”; not explained to students
• Teacher responsible for students’ behavior
• Tendency to take students’ behavior or misbehavior personally; vulnerability of self-worth or sense of adequacy to how kids act
• Rescuing behavior is common; warnings, inappropriate second chances; denying or making excuses for students’ misbehavior; protecting students from negative outcomes of choices or punishing undesirable choices
• Rules and boundaries established to protect teacher power
• Mistrust; belief that students are “always trying to get away with something” and will behave only in presence of authority they fear
• Teachers frightened by or uncomfortable with students’ expressions of feelings (especially anger, sadness or fear); denial of feel–ings; judgment, criticism, blaming, distracting or shaming students for their feelings
• Approval of students conditional on students’ cooperative, teacher-pleasing behavior
• Arrogance, self-centeredness, self-righteousness; “shoulds;” focus on teacher needs
• Double standards for adults and children; certain language, behaviors or attitudes teachers model are not tolerated (and punished) when students do the same things

Authority Relationships

• Proactive, preventative
• Goal- or consequence-oriented (positive or negative)
• Win-win (cooperative)
• Agreement- or negotiation-oriented; many choices may be offered
• Teacher sets limits and determines what is and is not negotiable; encourages self-enforcement
• Student empowerment and initiative encouraged within limits that respect everyone’s rights
• Direct
• Purpose for rules and boundaries is consequence-based, explained to students
• Students responsible for their own behavior
• Greater detachment from personal impact of students’ behavior (affect of students’ behavior on self-worth or adequacy of teacher) without loss of caring
• Students allowed to experience negative (but non-life-threatening) outcomes of choices; “poor choosing” (uncooperative, undesirable choices or behaviors) seen as “learning opportunities” or “teachable moments.”
• Rules or boundaries established to protect everyone’s rights, consider everyone’s needs
• Trust; belief that students will make responsible choices if given the opportunity (and reason) to do so; trust in students’ ability to function even in absence of authority
• Teachers accept and encourage students to feel feelings and express them constructively (without hurting others or themselves);
students accepted regardless of their feelings
• Acceptance of students regardless of their behavior
• No need to make student wrong for teacher to be right; respect for students’ needs
• Absence of double standards; teachers model behaviors they want children to exhibit

Discipline Goals

• Students make few decisions, have few opportunities to act independently
• Independence seen as threatening to power, undermining teacher’s role as authority, disciplinarian
• Punishment for infractions (often long-term and severe); rarely opportunities for self-correction (although remorse, shame and contrition may be accepted)
• Confusion of student behavior and worth
• Praise of student for cooperation, achievement, teacher-pleasing behavior (connecting student’s “goodness” to positive choices); emphasis on student, not deed and value of student’s choice to teacher
• Critical, judgmental; focus on negative
• Warnings, lectures, delayed consequences
• Problems with students often referred to outside authority for punishment (principal, counselor, coach, parent)
• Greater rigidity and uniformity in assignments, rewards; evaluation tends to be comparative (based on the performance of others)

Discipline Goals

• Students have opportunities to make decisions, act independently
• Independence seen as supporting cooperative relationship; frees teacher for instruction, guidance, facilitation
• Consequences for infractions (often the absence of positive consequences until behavior changes); self-correction encouraged; objective is improved behavior (re—morse, shame, contrition are not necessary).
• Separation of student behavior and worth
• Recognition of student cooperation or achievement without judging; emphasis on deed, not student (student’s worth is not an issue) and value of student’s choice to student.
• Focus on positive
• Immediate consequences (generally, removal of positive consequence)
• Personal responsibility for problems with students; teachers may contact outside authority as a resource, for ideas or support, or simply to let them know what’s going on and how they are going to handle the problem
• Greater diversity and flexibility in assignments, rewards; evaluation based on individual performance and ability

Needs of the Economy

• Ability to “fit in,” follow orders (chain of command), think inside the box, perform as directed; expectation that tasks/assignments would not vary much in one job description

Needs of the Economy

• Higher priority on networking, people skills, communication skills, creative thinking (“outside the box”) and problem solving, initiative, flexibility, adaptability; ability to multi-task, shift gears, change to shifting demands of the workplace; people with “vision and attitude.”

What is school usually like for kids with “vision and attitude” and other skills desired by the 21st-century workplace?

Excerpted and adapted from The Win-Win Classroom, revised edition, by Dr. Jane Bluestein © 2008, Corwin Publishing, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Related links from The Win-Win Classroom:

Teacher Self-Assessment
Guidelines for Offering Students Choices
Dealing Successfully with your Students’ Parents
Getting Away with Success
Motivating Cooperative Behavior
Handling Negative Student Behavior

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