Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why do we do what we do?

Earlier this week, I attended a meeting in which a work colleague led a discussion on Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.  I’m sure educators and parents alike can benefit on studying Kohlberg’s theory about how children acquire their moral values – fascinating stuff!  We actually had a very provocative discussion about how Kohlberg’s ideas apply to the workplace, how we interact with others and why we behave the way we do – and then we challenged each other to apply these principles when trying to influence others.

1.    I don’t want to get into trouble – Who wants to work around paranoia…following a set of rules and unquestionably obeying?  Not me!

2.    I want a reward – this one makes a little more sense to me as it is deal making at its finest.   Basically, I’ll do something for you and you’ll do something for me (e.g. the paycheck).

3.    I want to please somebody – this one has always gotten me into trouble until I figured out that the only person I need to please is ME!

4.    I follow the rules – yes, yes, I do!  For instance, it really annoyed me when people surreptitiously snapped pictures in art museums on my recent vacation when it was clearly prohibited. 

5.    I am considerate of other people – it’s the golden rule, people!

6.    I have a personal code of conduct - the highest level of moral development, aka “doing the right thing” (not as easy as it sounds).

So what does this have to do with work?  Well, well most of us work for the reward.  But as long as we are spending so much time together, wouldn’t it be great to move towards stages 5 and 6?  In everything we do? 

Maybe I’ll revisit this on December 31.  Or on Mardi Gras.  Just kiddin’ – I’m starting (er, continuing?) TODAY!

For all teacher/readers out there, do you know about the book Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire?  It is by Rafe Esquith and here’s a fun video to pique your interest:


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