Moving from Idealism Towards Hope
Chapter 5. TFA’s Culture of Guilt and Shame
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TFA’S CULTURE OF GUILT AND SHAME
“If my students don’t do well, it’s my fault. If I am not teaching the way TFA wants me to, I am widening the achievement gap … Of course it’s important, but you know, I’m not fucking perfect.”
“… the emphasis is that you’re failing children. I don’t know how you couldn’t feel shame over that. You wouldn’t get into TFA if you didn’t feel shame over failing children.”
“We’re doing the best we can. You’re one human being.”
CMs frequently described their TFA experiences with the words guilt and shame.1 Guilt and shame are both feelings associated with negative evaluation (Lewis, 1974); as such, guilt and shame are considered “self-conscious” and “moral emotions” (Tangney & Stuewig, 2004; Tracy & Robins, 2004). Colloquially the words guilt and shame are often used interchangeably, but therapists draw a distinction that helps to nuance the experience of causing harm to someone. Guilt and shame are connected but distinct emotional responses. Guilt is defined as a feeling of responsibility and remorse for causing harm to someone; guilt relates to others. Shame is defined as a painful feeling from our ← 97 | 98 → interpretation of who we are for causing harm; shame relates to and interprets ourselves (Burgo, 2013). Simply put, guilt is feeling badly for something you do, and shame is feeling badly for who you are; guilt...
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