Today I heard a teacher yelling at a student and all I could think about were the words of William W. Purkey and his 12 to 1 Ratio (Blue Cards: Positive -- Orange Cards: Negative). This system described below equates the handing out of blue cards as positive life experiences and the handing out of orange cards as negative experiences.
The incident brought back to my own mind the day "Mr. Black" karate chopped me so hard in the back of the neck that I peed my pants instantly in front of the entire class, because I walked on a corner of the grass instead of the sidewalk. I still fully feel the deep humiliation and shame that a small first grader should not have experienced. Still, 50 years later the experience brings tears to my eyes.
We live in a perilous world. A world filled with disadvantage, sadness, and inequity. A world where a young child does not always go home to a clean house with warm cinnamon rolls and loving reassurance from a caring family; where blue cards (positive experiences) are freely given.
I would like to remind every adult that works in any way with young children that your words and actions will affect a child's entire path in life. We must pass out blue cards to the children in our care.
According to Purkey's research, "Each person requires at least twelve blue cards for every one orange card just to "make it through the night." This ratio indicates the strength of orange cards and the actions needed to counteract them. to be fully functioning probably requires a much more positive ratio. When too few blue cards are received, or too many orange, the ratio falls "below minimum" and terrible things begin to happen. Individuals begin to lose self-esteem, optimism, and hope. This loss is coupled with the appearance of pessimism, hostility, and terrible anger. "Nobody likes me, respects me or cares about me, so I don’t like, respect, or care about others either."
Teachers: Please give out the blue cards freely!
"The reason the blue and orange card metaphor is valuable is that it serves as a constant reminder that everything people do and every way they do it is either positive or negative, beneficial or lethal, inviting or disinviting." Paula H. Stanley Radford University, VA (Read her full article here).
Purkey reminds us further in his research that everything counts! "The way a phone is answered, a letter written, a word spoken, an office painted, a colleague treated, a policy established, a program implemented is either helpful or harmful."
" Maslow (1970) captured the essence of the blue and orange card metaphor when he wrote: Let people realize that every time they threaten someone or humiliate or hurt ... or dominate or reject another human being, they become forces for the creation of psychopathology, even if these be small forces. Let them recognize that every man [sic] who is kind, helpful, decent, psychologically democratic, affectionate, and warm, is a psychotherapeutic force even though a small one."
Note: This post was written for T.
Teachers please treat your students with the caring and kindness they deserve. Seriously if a child goes home and tells his mother you only made him cry once today, you need to think about how many orange cards you are handing out.
And thank you to the countless educators who are handing out blue cards to the point of exhaustion! A kind and caring teacher makes all the difference.