01 June 2009

The Sword of Truth & Other Musings of a Tired MommaKat

I’ve been reading, wading really, through the assigned readings in my motivation class. Even though the topic this week relates to one of my favorite topics, self-efficacy, I’m tired and burned out. School came to a close, the move from hell finally came to an end late last night. Well, the move out ended; now on to unpacking and cleaning up what is meant to be our new home, only it doesn’t feel like it yet. Why not?

Perhaps it’s because I don’t see an end in sight, or because I so strongly doubted my ability to juggle teaching, class, overlapping summer classes, traveling to Cal-Wood, submitting resumes, interviewing, and – oh, yeah – parenting. Any sane person would look at a list such as this and simply freak out, get caught up in all that must be accomplished rather than analyze, sort it out, and prioritize a plan of action. Wouldn’t they?

Not my oldest. She took one look at me, one look out our old house, and simply whipped into action. Lists were constructed, tasks assigned, steps prioritized, help identified and called into action. The essence of calm in the face of chaos, she had my move organized in a heart beat. Whatever was the difference? She believed she / we could manage the job. She believed so fully, and so strongly that she simply knew that we could. She also knew that it would take work, that there were steps to what needed to be done, and put it all into motion.

Reflecting back, I realize that this is the basis of almost every fantasy series I have ever fallen in love with. The Sword of Truth series, The Belgariad, even the Shannara books follow the trials and triumphs of a main character who must learn to both trust and believe in their ability to accomplish a seemingly impossible goal on which world survival depends. Some wizened wizard walks both hero / heroine and reader through a basic understanding of The Will and the Word. Simply put, a task is achievable provided the questor has sufficient belief (in his / her ability), sufficient desire (really wants this to come to pass), and willingness (to do the work, which implies steps taken to achieve an end result.) That’s funny, that sounds an awful lot like what Bandura tells us about self-efficacy and the relationship between strong self efficacy and achievement. We ask whether or not we can teach our students to possess strong self-efficacy (at least I did) while Frodo Baggins sits on my living room shelf ready to illustrate the answer. Of course one can learn to overcome, to persevere, to think critically and identify the needed steps. Once started, I managed an enormously difficult move and walked away feeling the better for it, though to be honest I much prefer a task and associated journey similar to Frodo’s or BelGarion’s!

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