Sunday, October 20, 2013

Expect the Best: Moving Beyond Subjugation

Often those who have lived in subjugated experiences, grow to expect the worst.

Students who have grown up with subjugation may present as angry, frustrated, and distrustful.  That's because the treatment they've experienced has taught them to be cautious, wary, and critical of the environment around them.  Essentially, they've learned a survival tactic from a young age--a tactic born out of the world they've lived in.

The same may be true for any population that has faced prejudice or oppression, their defense mechanisms are heightened, sharp, and ready for another blow of dominance, control, or injustice.  The world they've experienced has been an "against the odds," contrary, uneasy world.

If you have faced subjugation or oppression in your own life, you may have embraced a pattern of "expecting the worst," and your expressions and responses may mimic that pattern.  Similarly students who have faced subjugation may often respond with anger, frustration, fear, or distrust.

In the face of this issue, the first step is to recognize this in your life or the life of your students.  The next step is to take this apart for yourself or your students--acknowledge the prejudice, oppression, and perhaps even cruelty experienced as well as the response patterns learned. Then move towards behaviors that "expect the best" and looks for the good.  Behaviors like that will engender the best of others and open paths of communication and exchange.

For many years, I've had success with students who faced subjugation, but I've never been able to express why. In this post, I finally am able to "see" some of what is going on in these angry children--the defense tactics and response they've built, tactics born in worlds, both small and large, that have met those children with prejudice, oppression, and dominance.  A lesson learned. A lesson shared.