1. 鼓励“我能行”的观念 我们必须抓住每个机会，去帮助这些学生改变他们的自我认识，从“我不行”到“我能行”。
2. 建立友谊 在结束这些避免失败的学生的自闭行为时，我们可以扮演主动的角色，鼓励他们去和我们和同学建立良好关系。
We may fail to recognize avoidance--of--failure as a goal of misbehavior, since the student who is avoiding failure generally dose not distract us or disrupt our classroom:
Alberto is slumped in his chair in the corner of the last row. He hasn’t once looked at the Spanish words Ms.Alvarez has written on the board. When she asks why he isn’t copying the words in a notebook like the other students, Alberto avoids eye contact. He shrugs his shoulders and sinks father down in his seat.
Ms.Alvarez worries about ALberto. He never responds to her questions in class or to her kind remarks between classes. His cumulative folder indicates he has the ability to learn Spanish, but his poor classwork and incomplete homework present a contrary picture. Ms.Alvarez would like to help Alberto someday. But for now, with so many rowdy and disorderly students to worry about, she’s relieved that at least he doesn’t add to the disturbance.
Students like Alberto don’t cause as much as those who are seeking attention, power, or revenge. They tend to observe school rules and requirements. The problem is that they seldom interact with teachers and peers, choosing to remain isolated in the classroom, halls and lunchroom. Another problem is that adults may view these students as "transparent." If we are not careful, we may look through these students as if they are nonexistent.
Sometimes a student needs to withdraw temporarily, to look within and regroup. Don’t mistake for avoidance--of--failure behaviour. Withdrawal becomes a problem when the student consistently engages in such behaviour over a period of time, in ways that impede academic and development.
Avoidance--of--failure isn’t usually active. The problem seldom lies in what the student is doing but rather in what the student is not doing.
One active avoidance--of--failure behaviour is the frustration tantrum. On the surface this tantrum resembles a temper tantrum: Young students tick and cry, older students pound the desk and utter unprintable words, the goal of each tantrum is an explosion designed to get the teacher to back off and submit to the student’s demands. In contrast, the frustration tantrum is an implosion designed to let off steam and direct the focus away from an apparent or potential failure. Students who have frustration tantrum have set out to perform certain tasks but have been unable to succeed to their own satisfaction. Finally, out of sheer frustration, they turn up the vocal volume or collapse into tears, hoping that the emotional outburst will allow them to avoid facing their failure.
Another active avoidance--of--failure behavior is clowning or goofing off. Underneath these antics is the hope that teachers and classmates will focus on the surface behaviors and not even notice the fear underneath.
In most cases, students who seek to avoid failure exhibit this misbehavior passively.
Procrastination and Noncompletion
Some students—speciallybright,capable youth--procrastinate to avoid failure.” I could have if I would have" is their motto. Most people have used this motto on a few occasions. Did you ever delay writing a paper until the night before it was due? Then, if you received a C, what did you tell yourself? Probably something like this: " I’m really a good student, and I could have gotten an A if I had worked harder." If instead you had worked for weeks on the paper and received a C, you might have thought, "why not procrastinate and end up feeling like a winner, instead of working hard and feeling like a failure?"
Neglecting to complete projects and assignment is another variation of this passive avoidance--of--failure. Projects that are never finished cannot be judged or grades, so failure is impossible. I laughed when I learned about this kind of avoidance behavior because at the time I had a drawer full of half--seven garments. I believed that smart people sewed to avoid the high cost of clothing. I had told myself, "I’m really okay at this. Someday I’ll finish the clothes." If I had actually finished the sewing and nothing had fit, I’d have had to tell myself, "I guess I’m really a failure at sewing." By not completing the projects I was able to continue feeling competent.
Some students avoid failure by developing temporary incapacities. For example, consider Morrie:
Morrie is skilled academically but feels klutzy in physical education classes. When it’s time for phys. ed., he complains of a headache one time, stomach cramps the next---any ailment that might excuse him from a situation in which he expects to do poorly. Since he doesn’t participate, no one can judge his performance. It’s no surprise that Morrie’s illness disappears as soon as phys.ed. is over.
The current emphasis on learning disabilities and attention--deficit disorder inadvertently helps students successfully carry out avoidance--of--failure behavior. The whole notion of disabilities, especially when drugs are used as part of the corrective procedures, feeds into a student’s notion of "I can’t" and provides a seemingly legitimate excuse to withdraw and quit trying.
Even the most astute diagnostician has difficulty differentiating between real and assumed disabilities. Some students are so good at pretending, even on tests, that teachers often wonder if students can’t or if they simply won’t. Frequently, the students themselves don’t really know. To make matter more confusing, some students who do have a minor disability have learned to make it major. By appearing more disabled than they are, these students can keep teachers at bay and thus avoid more failure.
Some students do need special help to learn. Unfortunately., the labels schools apply to them tend to reinforce these children’s notions of their inadequacies. What they need is to be taught with methods and materials adapted to their needs and to hear the message, "You can do it!" when they receive consistent encouragement, their self--esteem will grow and they’ll have less need to work at avoiding failure.
How to Identify Avoidance-of-Failure Behavior
We’ve learned three clues for distinguishing attention, power, revenge, and avoidance-of-failure goals: the reading on our emotional pressure gauge, our typical reaction, and the student’s response to our correction.
Avoidance-of-Failure Clue 1:
When faced with avoidance-of-failure behavior, our pressure gauge changes location, moving from deep inside our gut to our head. The readings on the gauge swing away from the mild-to-boiling scale. Instead of upsetting feelings like irritation, anger, and hurt, we’ll feel professional concern, frustration, perhaps despair. We ask ourselves, “Why we our teaching strategies not working?” “Is there an undiagnosed learning disability?” Feeling that we simply can’t get through to this student, we might even begin to doubt our own teaching ability.
Avoidance-of-Failure Clue 2:
A typical reaction is to give up trying, feeling that we’re up against a brick wall that we don’t seem able to penetrate. We may seek a referral to the school support-service personnel as the only solution to the problem.
Avoidance-of-Failure Clue 3:
When teachers give up trying and leave the student alone, the misbehavior doesn’t stop temporarily (as with attention), nor does it intensify on the student’s own terms (as with power or revenge). Rather, the young person’s response is usually to continue to avoid the task at hand.
Origins of avoidance-of-Failure Behavior
A number of all-too-prevalent social and educational factors contribute to students’ choosing avoidance-of- failure behavior.
Rule of the Red Pencil
A long-accepted educational practice has been to mark students’ mistakes in red pencil, with the number wrong clearly circled at the top of the page. Students know their mistakes are going to receive attention. Often everyone else in the class knows just how many mistakes they’ve made. No wonder some students simply decide not to do any work.
When parents, teachers, or students have unreasonable expectations for success, avoidance-of-failure behavior soon follows. Realizing they can’t reach the goal, students simply refuse to try. They’d rather be chastised for not making the effort than be branded “stupid” for trying and failing. They may see peers or siblings succeeding easily; when they compare their own stumbling efforts, they come up short. We may try to tell these students we’ll be satisfied if they put forth their best effort, but they’re not convinced. To refuse to try is less damaging to their ego than to try to achieve results that might not be satisfactory.
Perfectionism and Star Mentality
Students who strive to be perfect can’t tolerate the slightest mistake. To them, an error isn’t a normal part of the learning process but rather a tragedy to be avoided at all costs. How sad that so many bright, capable young people refuse to put forth any effort because they believe that only perfect performance is acceptable.
Society and schools usually recognize results, rarely the effort involved. The class valediction is honored for earning the highest grades, regardless of whether it tool hard work to earn them. In contrast, who recognizes students like Tami, who went from a D-minus to a B-plus average by spending every afternoon with tutors? Or Whitney, who now comes to class on time and pays attention nearly, the whole period？
Emphasis on Competition
An emphasis on competition in the classroom is another reason some students adopt avoidance-of-failure behavior. If they have to be branded a winner or loser, they’d rather not play at all.
Some educators are champions of competition. They believe that competition motivates students to try harder and prepares them for real-life competition. But real-life competition differs from classroom competition, particularly in one major aspect: choice of arena. When we compete in the workplace, most of us are in our chosen field, doing work for which we have a preference and an aptitude—factors that give a competitive edge. for example when I propose a book to a publisher, I know I’m competing against other authors, but I also know that I have the talent for writing such a book and hence a reasonable chance for success. I would never tell a clothing manufacturer,” I’d like to design dresses for you.”
Students, however, are placed in a less fortunate position constantly. All day long, they’re compared with other students in different subjects and skills, from math to English to social studies to science to physical education. They don’t get to choose which subject they’d like to compete in. they aren’t allowed to say, “No thank you, Mr. Umbermeyer, I don’t wish to compete in English today.” So they speak with their behavior instead. They withdraw, isolate themselves, and refuse to try.
Students’ legitimate Needs
When we closely examine avoidance-of – failure behavior, we find that students who choose these behavior have some immediate needs they do not know how to satisfy in appropriate ways. Like all of us, these students need to believe in themselves and to feel successful in their daily lives. They need to believe they are smart enough that, with good teaching from us and a reasonable from them, they will be able to succeed academically.
Avoidance-of-failure Behavior’s Silver Lining
For some students, ambition is the silver lining in avoidance-of- failure behavior. They want to succeed in school – if they can be assured of not making mistakes and pf achieving some status. With the right strategies, we can nurture this ambition and help the students change their behavior.
For many students with avoidance- of- failure behaviors, however, there is no silver lining. These students are too discouraged. They have incredibly low self-esteem, and they lack the support of friends. Since they have no resource for going it alone, they need and deserve immediate help.
Principles of Prevention
Two principles of prevention are helpful for alleviating avoidance-of-failure behavior:
1. Encourage an “I can” belief. We must take every opportunity available to help these students change their self-perception from “I can’t” to “I can.”
2. Foster friendships. We can take an active role in ending failures-avoiding students’ isolation by draw them into congenial relationships with us and with other students.
In Chapter 13 and 14 we will look closely at ways we can put these principles into practice.