Updated: Feb 4

Q. Some people embrace individual differences and literally take-off with the style information. Others, however, seem to be blind to the differences or resist dealing with them. Why?

A. The reasons are many and complex. In my 40 years of research, I've heard so many excuses that I'm rarely surprised any more. For sake of brevity, I will divide the reasons for resistance and avoidance into two categories: INNOCENCE and IGNORANCE.

INNOCENT people are unaware and unconscious of individual differences in styles, their natures and their meanings. Like driving by the same old landmark for years and never truly noticing its existence, some people have coursed down the highway of life and not noticed style differences. Many look without "seeing." Such people are literally clueless until they are ready to awaken to the conditions for instructing.

IGNORANT individuals are very different. They know better, but willfully ignore (do not attend to) differences and the possibilities of harm that can occur. The chief reasons for this are: DENIAL, FEAR, GUILT/SHAME AND LAZINESS.

DENIAL is disbelief in the reality of something and the reduction of anxiety through the exclusion of intolerable ideas, thoughts, feelings or facts from the conscious mind. Denial causes people to adopt and act upon illusions and delusions. They say such things as: one-size-fits-all, you could do it if you really wanted to, try harder, everyone else can do it, the real world isn't going to adjust to you-so adapt or die, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there, learn to compromise, randomness is an aberration and imagination is for fools. Others deny style information because the administration won't support it, the idea failed to work 20 years ago, time is too short to cover the curriculum and meet kids' needs, rigors of college demand sequentially-prepared students, consultants will try to sell anything and style is just a fad.

FEAR is an emotional response to a real or perceived sense of loss. Fearful individuals ignore style findings because they worry about the possible results of changing their attitudes and behaviors. People may no longer like them. They may lose friendship with those who hold on to the past or may see them as dropping standards, being disloyal, pandering to "those types" of people and "making it rough" on those who don't deal with style. Some fear loss of respect, status, promotions and jobs if they stray from the organization's politically-correct expectations. And, some are concerned over the consequences of empowering students with choices and decision-making rights.

GUILT/SHAME are the feelings that result from the fact/belief that the person has done wrong. Such people repress the information because of past attitudes and behaviors toward certain types of people. They are troubled about how they may have mislead, deceived or harmed others, and wish not to face-up to and amend their attitudes and actions. They deep-six the information.

LAZINESS is the unwillingness to work or exert oneself to understand and apply style information. These individuals seek a quick-fix that will be dropped at the first sign of failure. They don't want to attend meetings, training workshops or practice sessions, particularly if they have to pay for them. Many won't go out of their way to find instructional options for different types of learners or learn to vary their teaching styles. Most prefer to learn about style via brief overviews instead of theory-into-practice information and skill development. And some are too cheap to buy the books and support materials needed. They satisfy themselves with a synopsis or a single inservice session, then claim to "know all about the topic."

Ignorance poses serious challenges to change agents, presenters and consultants. These acts of will are not resolved by providing more information via colorful handouts and Power Point. Nor will they change by listening to entertaining speakers.

Q. Why hasn't society accepted style differences?

A. Our profession has yet to bring forth the reality of these ideas to society's minds. Our findings have not entered the public consciousness. Thus the people are not ready to abandon the one-size-fits-all illusion. It will come in due time!



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