Competence and self-determination

The innate desire we have for both competence and self-determination fit into the two categories that we often use in schools: Learning and Pastoral Care. Learning caters for the desire for competence and Pastoral Care caters for our need for self-determination.

A young person who integrates a set of behaviours e.g. rules of the road can be self-determining in this domain, deciding where to go next and driving safely. The young person who does not properly integrate these rules may well break the speed limit, cross over into the opposite lane to get past a car in their way and, if they think they will get away with it, run a red light.

Paradoxically, the rule-breaker is less self-determining as their behaviour is at least partly in response to rejecting – rather than integrating – the rules. Clearly, their well-being is also under threat through their dangerous behaviour.

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When the rules are well-integrated they are not seen as a limit to our self-determination but rather a way for us to have freedom of action.

Historically, these two categories in schools have been seen as separate, a student with behavioural issues is sent out of a class and a pastoral care specialist takes over.

With the use of encounter in the teacher-student relationship both the conditions to develop competence and the support of self-determination to integrate effective ways of behaving are being provided. Some pastoral care specialists may still be needed but the bulk of the work of properly socialising children takes place alongside their learning.

Thus, children grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults.

John Corrigan is an expert in helping individuals to bring their whole of mind to their daily life and increase their effectiveness and the effectiveness of those around them. This expertise scales from the individual to the team to the organisation. At the core of this work is the practice of encounter.

John Corrigan