Column Sjoukje: Leary model

Sometimes a change in perspective can be effective.

As a teacher, you have to decide how to treat a group of students. Do you steer them in a certain direction with your advice, or wait until they come up with an idea, and then hold back on giving your opinion immediately? Do you help them with ideas, or do you play devil’s advocate? When I was doing my basic teacher training, I got told about the Leary model to make me aware of these choices. You are always somewhere between ‘above’ (managing) and ‘under’ (following) and between ‘together’ (cooperating) and ‘against’ (attacking).

Since I started exercising at the Bongerd, I understand this much better. You are unlikely to find me in the gym because three sets of 12 lifts on some apparatus is not my core competence. I tend to conclude halfway through a set that I’ve done enough. Or I give the last set a miss. Or a machine. Or the entire gym session. No, I much prefer a group lesson, because if there’s a teacher and other participants I have to turn up.

I have seen teachers demonstrate all the Leary model categories. ‘I can feel those lower back muscles now; can you guys too?’ (together). ‘If you find this one easy, try doing it on one leg (against). ‘Does it hurt? Great! It’s about to get much worse!’ (above-against). Teacher Ingi knows everyone by name. When I drop too far down on my arms with my legs on a space hopper, she is quite happy to call out to me across the room: ‘Sjoukje, you’re not a pot-bellied pig!’. She also praises you exuberantly so I’m prepared to take such comments (above-cooperating).

The teacher is quite happy to call out to me across the room: ‘Sjoukje, you’re not a pot-bellied pig!’

Sometimes a change in perspective can be effective. Ingi wasn’t able to come last week and our group lesson for staff got a really young substitute teacher. He seemed to be asking permission for everything: ‘Is it OK if we continue, or would you like to rest a bit longer? (under-cooperating). When I told him he should just get on with it because we’re not doing this for fun, we’re doing it because it is good for us, he soon changed his tune. He came and stood next to me: ‘Excellent! Your muscles will ache tomorrow!’ (above-against).

Sjoukje Osinga (56) is an assistant professor of Information Technology. She sings alto in the Wageningen chamber choir Musica Vocale, has three sons who are students and enjoys birdwatching with her husband in the Binnenveldse Hooilanden.

Also read:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to write a comment.