Monday, November 01, 2004

Taught Helplessness

I read a lot and sometimes things just fall together.

I have read Design of Everyday Things. He brought up a concept he called Taught Helplessness, basically if you fail at something, you think it is your fault, therefore you think you can't do it, and the worse you get at it. He has found it happens a lot with respect to Math education and Computers.

In An Underground History of American Schools, he has an example of a girl who is so completely helpless that she has learned how to get the teacher to practically do all the work for her.

In Punished by Rewards, he talks about how using rewards is just as powerful as using punishments in creating learned helplessness, which is in fact taught to the subject.

There is a hard question to ask here. What other ways are we being taught to be helpless that we aren't seeing? Life in America has changed in the last few decades. It used to be that the American Dream was to own your own business, and now it is just owning your own home, and it seems to be slipping to be just having a job.

It doesn't have to be this way. We can do and be better. All we have to do is do something!


Anonymous said...

when a bad thing happens, or we are unhappy, feeling stuck etc. associating it with fate and doing nothing to change things is also taught helplessness

Stephan said...

Yes, it sure is. Too often our society is telling us to do nothing and let someone else take care of it. But now there are not enough someone else's to do that.