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Chapter 2: Section 3, The “Real World” From Transformatitive Classroom Management


Consider the use of the term “real world,” as in “that idea sounds nice, but it would not work in the real world.” The following is a side by side comparison of the constructed term implied by some as representing their reality and what might be considered an alternative perspective. The reader is asked to draw their own conclusions after examining each column.


The “Real World”

The Real World

  • My perception of what is possible, given my beliefs, experiences, fears, and biases.
  • What is actually possible given the laws of physics and human behavior.
  • “The way things are” is fixed.
  • “The way things are” is socially constructed over time and can change as a result of the collective and individual choices and actions of the members of the group. (See Ch. 4)
  • Students bring problems to the class that make certain teacher responses and behaviors inevitable.
  • While student can certainly bring certain energies and conditioned behavior into a class, in the end the teacher makes the weather in the classroom. Just about anything is possible with enough time, desire and skills.
  • Some students are not capable of learning. Therefore having positive expectations for them is useless.
  • All students can learn given the right conditions. Moreover, the level of expectations the teacher has will effect the relative success of every student. (See Ch.8)
  • There are outside influences such as district policies, and resource scarcity that limit what can be accomplished.
  • Outside limitations such as scarcity and mandated curriculum create burdens, but much can be done despite these factors
  • “This practice will not work here. I tried it and it did not work with my students.”
  • A sound practice will work anywhere. For every teacher that claims that it did not work there is another that found great success with it with the same population of students in the same district.
  • The real world is competitive and so these kids need to get used to a competitive system.
  • Social systems in the real world are being created by the collective training of students by teachers. If we teach students to work in teams they will have those skills. If we teach them to work independently they will be used to that. And if we raise them to think competitively, we create a more competitive world. Moreover, only a small portion of the world as it exists today is inherently competitive. (Ch.
  • “These students only respond to external reinforcement and punishment, so I have no choice but to continue to use that with them.”
  • Students do get used to certain kinds of treatment and adult interactions, but they will respond to 1) what feels right and 2) what the situation calls for. Any group of students will respond to an approach that is built of respect and responsibility given quality leadership and enough time.
  • Usually a mental construction that one makes to keep from having to feel guilt and inadequacy
  • Inherently empirical. The more perceptive and aware we become the more we can see the real world clearly.


As you examine each perspective consider why so many teachers espouse the “real world” view characterized by the column on the left.  It seems likely that it is in fact what is referred to as a “reaction formation” in cognitive behavioral psychology. When the unconscious does not want to feel a feeling (in this case guilt, inadequacy, helplessness, hopelessness, anger at parents, anger at one’s own limitations, shame, etc.) it develops a reactive belief to compensate for the feeling (in this case “it is not my fault,” “I am doing the best I can,” “If it were not for external forces, I would be able to succeed,” “My world view is right, even if it is not supported by evidence.” 


At the heart of the “real world” view characterized on the left is a shift to an external locus of control. As you listen to the plea of the teacher defending this perspective, listen to how the tendency will be to externalize causality. The opposite of this view is characterized by an internal locus of control. In an internal LOC the teacher feels a inherent responsibility for the outcomes that occur in his/her class.


It is easy to see why the difficult task of teaching and the exposure to other externalizing individuals can lead a teacher to this view for the “way things are,” but it does have a cost. It breads misery and ineffectiveness. Teachers who cultivate an attitude of internal LOC will be happier at their jobs and more effective with students.


Section to be revised and included in Chapter 2.