teaching PCT

from Ed Ford (930105:1316)

To All -

I really do sympathize with those of you trying to teach or get
others to buy into PCT. It must be highly frustrating. Obviously,
when trying to convince someone about PCT or teach PCT, no one
method is going to be the answer or work for everyone. I think it
depends on the internal world of those you're teaching and how
commmitted they are to learning. I'm presently working in school
districts, working with many who have already been introduced to a
form of control theory that would be totally foreign to anyone on
the net. It was created by William Glasser and his people are now
teaching it worldwide as control theory. Many of the people who've
learned Glasser's CT, don't want to make the effort of learning
another kind of CT and often they see PCT as more confusing, and
they are happy with the little diagrams that Glasser uses.
Obviously, there is no research or basis for what he is teaching.
He listened to Bill Powers then went off and created his own
version of control theory.

When I go into a school district (I'm flying to Flint, Michigan
tomorrow for a two-day workshop), I have to be careful not to
antagonize the participants and at the same time, as carefully as
I possibly can and with the least amount of pain and confusion,
lead them to an understanding of what PCT is and its practical
usefulness in the school and home setting. I think the key here is
to introduce them to the concept in as simple a way as possible and
then lead them quickly to the practical aspects which tie in to
their common experiences. I find both in my private practice and
when teaching, the key is for PCT to "make sense" and, secondly,
that PCT can be made practical and useful. I find the simpler I
make it, the more readily people will accept it, providing there is
a practical aspect to it.

I generally begin most lectures or explanations with the rubber
band demonstration. Once they understand the concept that what
causes actions is the comparison of what we want to our feedback
and that our actions merely accommodate this by trying to deal with
the disturbances in such a way as to bring the feedback back in
line with what we want, or, in the case of the rubber band
demonstration, to keep the knot over the dot. Then I draw my
diagram of control theory (see FFS) and then draw lines from the
marks made in the rubber band experiment to the appropriate areas
in the diagram. I then take the elements of the diagram and tie
them immediately to the appropriate areas in counseling or plan
making or whatever.

In plan making, I show the need for a specific goal, the need for
measurable feedback and how the comparison between the two is a
model of what goes on in the brain of their student or child. They
draw a chart show the goal and graphing the daily progress. They
visully see how the comparison of the feedback with the goal is
what drives the actions to overcome the disturbances to achieve
alignment between what we want and the feedback. I've never had
anyone argue against this simple demonstration. It all makes so
much sense and its utility is obvious. And, they've bought into
PCT with the least amount of discomfort.

In counseling, the same thing occurs. If the questions you ask the
student or child are specific and appropriate, the child will have
to make comparisons to deal with the answer. That comparison or
evaluation of what we want as we compare that want to the rules or
standards; or what we want as we compare that to what we are doing
and is it helping us get what we want or is it the best way; or in
terms of setting priorities or whatever; you are really watching a
control system operate before you very eyes (and ears). Especially
exciting is watching them change their actions or deal with
disturbances in a different way, sort of without thinking of their
actions, but rather as they ponder or think through or deal with
the questions you've asked. But it's all going on in their head,
and all you've done is to help them focus on the right areas
through questioning. Helping them get the machinery going by
asking questions is the key.

Because all this is done simply and tied into practical techniques,
they've learned PCT with very little effort. Now from there to
reading and understanding Powers' BCP is a ten year leap (for me)
but for those I've taught, they've bought into the basic concept.
The rest has to do with how far they want to take their learning of

10209 N. 56th St., Scottsdale, Arizona 85253 Ph.602 991-4860

i.kurtzer (970311)

since there have been no comment to my recent appendum on the
utter lack of a PCT oriented program, but a relatively lively flurry on
how it should be taught..breathe..i assume that those teachers on the net
will begin the task and are now only deciding the best way? mmm?
or put differently if you are a graduate teacher within a respectable
doctoral program who would like to sponsor PCT-oriented research let us,
and me!, know.


[from Jeff Vancouver 970313.10:45 EST]

I teach about PCT in my Ph.D. classes. More than that, PCT is an integral
part of most everything I teach. I and my students do research that I
consider is relevant to PCT. However, what I consider relevant and what,
say Rick, considers relevant are not the same. So could graduate students
go to where I teach and learn PCT and do PCT research (which, by the way,
is going to be Ohio University beginning next Fall), depends on who is
defining PCT research.



                           Jeffrey B. Vancouver
Assistant Professor Phone: (212)998-7816
Department of Psychology Fax: (212)995-4018
New York University e-mail: jeffv@psych.nyu.edu
6 Washington Pl., Rm 578
New York, NY 10003