Sunday, April 17, 2011

Repeating mistakes: Lessons from the cardinal

Northern_Cardinal_Male-27527 I do not mind mistakes.  As a matter of fact, mistakes are valuable opportunities for growth.  The issue that concerns me is that in order for a mistake to become an opportunity to grow, there has to be a conscious effort to actually learn from the mistake and endeavor to not repeat it.  So why do we see so many examples of people repeating the same mistake over and over again.  In schools, I’m sure we can think of the teacher who continued to make the same mistake with parent communication, student evaluation, lesson planning, etc.  We end up asking ourselves, “Why are you doing that again?  Didn’t you learn from last time that that is a bad idea?”  While I generally believe that we humans are among the more intelligent species (insert laugh here :), I think I have learned more about this issue from quite literally a “bird brain” – the cardinal who insists on visiting my house every morning.

My “visitor” is a bright red male cardinal who lands on the front porch before taking flight and smacking into the front window…repeatedly.  That’s not all.  This cardinal then flies down to my car and repeats this same behavior on my right side rear-view mirror.  Once he finishes, he comes back to the house and performs his front widow attack at various intervals for at least the next few hours.

I am not an ornithologist, but I suspect the cardinal is crashing into my window because he is programmed to protect his territory and his reflection is viewed as a threat. 

On the other hand, what if he just enjoys beating his head against the glass?  After all, he gets my attention, even a little blog space.  The problem with enjoying the act of hitting the glass, though, is that if he were ever successful and broke the window,it would likely kill him.

As school leaders, do we know of anyone who continues to “hit their head against the glass?”  Do they feel threatened and are acting out of impulse or are they getting the necessary attention they deserve?

Teachers have the capacity to change their behaviors and learn from their mistakes.  There may eventually be consequences for those who do not. 

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