Three Beliefs

The Three Beliefs

Before we can do anything to someone else we must first believe something about ourselves and about our behavior. We all have these beliefs and they don’t always align with what we say about how people should be treated.

  1. I think and act in ways that I hope will help me meet my need for survival, belonging, power, freedom, and fun.
  2. I cannot make others do things they do not want to do. I can only provide information; Others cannot control how I think, act, and feel.
  3. Every person has the right to be free from ridicule, threats, punishments, and rewards as a means for forcing them to do things they do not want to do.

These beliefs are the exact opposite of what Dr. William Glasser called “External Control Psychology.”

Educators, parents, and children who can at least verbally assent to these beliefs are well on the road to understanding how important it is to honor and respect the intrinsic freedoms of others.

Without these beliefs in place, school culture is at risk of remaining or becoming a place where power struggles and secrecy are the norms instead of openness and negotiation.

What Do Teachers Believe About Students

We cannot make one sweeping statement about what all teachers believe about all students. Teachers are human and capable of favoritism and bias. But, we can look at common teacher behaviors and deduce what a specific teacher believes about a student.

Does the teacher blame and criticize students for being lazy or entitled?

If yes, then this teacher may not believe that students are acting in their own best interest at the time. They may not believe the first of the three beliefs. The first belief sees the best in people and gives them the benefit of the doubt.

Does the teacher attempt to control the behaviors of others?

Yes? The teacher does not believe that the only thing they can give is information. They think they can actually control your mind, even if it’s just a little bit. If they think they can control your mind then they are more likely to try to.

Does the teacher use grades and stickers or punishments and threats to try to control students?

Yes? They don’t believe that other people have the right to be free from those things. If they did, why would they do them?

What Do You Believe?

Do you believe you are doing your best with the information you have?

Do you believe that you are the one who controls your thoughts and actions?

Do you believe you have the right to be free from ridicule, harassment, punishments, and bribes?


Philip Mott

I've been working with families for two decades now. I write about topics pertaining to parents of children ages 4-12.

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