PAT In Perspective
I've recently had several long conversations about PAT
with teachers who have been to our summer workshops. Whether
at the primary, elementary or secondary level, the questions
tend to be the same.
- What do I use for PAT?
- How can I be sure the students will like the PATs?
- If I already have high interest activities, do I have
to come up with additional activities for PAT?
The questions from teachers just beginning to use Responsibility
Training tend to focus on PAT. But as our conversations
progress, a more basic issue comes to the surface. To
paraphrase, “Responsibility Training seems so complicated.
What am I really trying to accomplish with it?”
Once we put Responsibility Training into perspective,
PAT loses its strange, foreboding quality.
To begin with, Responsibility Training is just a clever
way of training kids to waste less time during the day.
It is a form of Time Management. Typically kids fritter
away a huge amount of their class time. They dawdle getting
to their seats, they dawdle during lesson transitions,
they waste time coming to attention and getting out their
materials and lining up and anything else you want to
name. Students are Ph.D. time wasters. They know that
the alternative is work.
So how can you induce them to save time? In the workshop
we ask an analogous question—How do you train a
teenager to be responsible with money? (Responsibility
Training is generic, after all.) First, they have to have
money. We are teaching them money management. Second they
have to live within a budget. They cannot borrow against
the future. And, third, if they want extra money, they
have to do extra work to earn it—like chores around
the house. While some errors will be made at first, the
school of hard knocks will train the teenager to live
within his/her means or go broke.
Responsibility Training with time is analogous in every
way. We give the students PAT just as we give the teenager
money because there is no other way to learn time management
then by managing time. Then, we give the students control
over their destiny. If they fritter time away, they run
out, and if they save time they become rich. The teacher
is not rewarding or punishing student behavior as much
as they are simply keeping an accurate record of the students’
Typically in a classroom the many are fairly responsible
and the few (like Larry, from the book) are irresponsible.
Responsibility Training simply induces the many to manage
the few so that the teacher doesn't have to do it.
The power of Responsibility Training does not come from
the thrill value of the PAT. It comes from the empowerment
of the group over its own destiny. The complex mechanics
of empowering the many leave you few choices, whereas
there are a limitless number of potential PATs. Usually
the PAT is something you would have done anyway to have
fun with learning.