Challenging Pro-Passivity with Matriarchal Storytelling 

I often refer to my journalism days and my psychology studies when I talk about constructing a Matriarchal storytelling style, yet I am also an artist and instructor, with the latter career being very helpful in seeing how minds take in and interpret new information.I have taught children to adults and those in a regular academic setting to those in a psychiatric setting. I have taught arts as well as communications, including the leisure studies and the academic. In all my years teaching, I have seen four distinctive ways of dealing with information:

The Pro-Active Learner: These people come in with a plan and vision of what they need and want. They may not always be the top students, but they are willing to experiment at the expense of a grade point average. They know the point is to learn, not get an A. They require the least instruction from a teacher, and if the teacher begins to meddle, it becomes a detriment to their learning. I am a Pro-Active learner. I am also autodidactic by nature. I will push the boundaries to try something new. I want to understand my knowledge and apply it by creating my own theories to test. Many teachers don't like this brand of learner because they make the teacher feel redundant and if the instructor is a meddler or a control freak, the personalities will clash. These people actually thrive on neglect and can do more with less and are focussed on the future. The teacher is there to guide from a distance and advise whether there are any potential pitfalls the student faces, but to give the answers is an insult to them and to patronize these people in any way will horrendously backfire on the instructor. These students are more like colleagues than students.

The Active Learner: The teacher's best students. They come in with an open mind with no preset ideas, and are willing to learn. They are focussed, even if they aren't visionaries or innovators. They know what is the point of an education and do well as students. They look for guidance from teachers. They like structure and are insightful. If a teacher has to allocate time wisely, this is the group who deserve the most, but usually won't get it as the latter two categories of learners hijack those limited resources. As a teacher, I find these students to be ideal and a pleasure to teach. They ask a lot of wonderful questions that get a teacher to think and learn as well because they care about getting educated.

The Passive Learner: These are the ones who eat up most of the teacher's resources, but the returns are always dicey. They don't *work* with the material or ponder it; they think learning is a process of osmosis where the knowledge will magically transform them and make them smart. Effort repulses them. They often get higher marks than they deserve because they rely on memorization, modelling, and mimicry, making it appear as if they have learned, but they merely parrot what they hear with no actual understanding of what they have learned. They do the minimum and if they do not excel in a subject, they avoid it to make their average inflated. They are rote learners who purge after they no longer need to remember what they learned. They often are the charmers who try to beguile their instructors so their lack of knowledge is not as obvious. They rely on tricks and often make excuses, but they either try to pass by the skin of their teeth, or stalk the teacher until they are given an A because they do not understand the point of education. They think it is about passing or getting an A, but the learning part is irrelevant to them. Their parents often complain about the teachers and they never blame their child for their disconnect and lack of understanding. They also demand teachers spend more time with their students, not realizing quantity of time is not as important as *quality* -- but unless the student is willing to connect, it is a waste of effort. They live in the now and don't see the consequences of their apathy.

The Pro-Passive Learner: The teacher's worst enemy and the novice instructor's absolute bane. They go in to the class with the plan *not* to learn. They will do everything and anything except the one thing they need to do: educate themselves. They are arrogant and make excuses as they provoke people around them, and using that chaos to control others to do their work for them. They will use pity, morals, and honour to exploit people to get them to waste resources on a lost cause. They play mind games with naive teachers. They always have an excuse why they are tanking, and not one involves their own deficits and brazen immorality. They are disruptive, passive aggressive, rude, bullying, abusive, disrespectful, cruel, and refuse to think. They will let opportunities pass them by to prove their theories right. Yet they have no focus: they won't do the work, but what they replace the work with will meet the same fate: a middling fizzle with no tangible results. They try to socialize, but it always falls flat. They make enemies in a bid to make allies to bring down the teacher in their imaginary pecking order. They have decided learning is a sham and a waste of time and they *want* the teacher to engage them because they have rigged the board for the teacher to always lose, making the instructor look ineffectual in front of the class so that everyone loses respect for the teacher. They want to sabotage the teacher and other students to prove their theories right. A teacher must not engage these students. The materials are there for everyone, but if a student is passive to the point of apathy, they must suffer the consequences of their own manipulations. They have already decided to fail to prove a point. They have decided they are smarter and cagier than the one teaching and that they already know everything, making the instruction redundant. The less upset the teacher is in their presence, the less control they have -- and that often may be the only life lesson they will ever learn, but at least it's the one they need to learn the most.

The biggest mistake many teachers make is to try to "get through" to the Pro-Passive Learner and waste most of their time and nerves on them. The student *wants* that engagement for a single reason: to control the stage by showing the other students who is the worthiest of the teacher's time. They make demands for things, confusing special (needing less but surpassing the average) with special needs (needing more than the average to keep up), and then decree the props and security teddies they demanded are not good enough. Then they slowly pull the teacher into a vortex as they show that they are stronger and sneakier than the one doing the teaching. *Your degrees are garbage* is what the Pro-Passive learner is using to taunt the teacher, but if the teacher ignores the games, the student loses the game. It's not all about them or getting something they didn't earn.

If the instructor plays the game, he will always lose because to engage in any debate gives credence to the Pro-Passive student's false arguments and issues -- and he doesn't believe what he argues -- that is the reason he laughs in your face. He is all about being unpredictable and using misdirection. If the instructor puts the Pro-Passive Learner on the bottom rung, the student will lash out and even yell at the teacher, but not in the same way. Their games hinge on being the top dog who knows the ways of the world, not the runt of the group who can't keep up because he is not smart enough to see the constructive goals. They will try another angle and are not above lying, pretending to be a sensitive and delicate soul, or using various masks and scripts to try to establish dominance. They may be sycophants one day, but then patronizing boors the next. They will seemingly do well one moment, but suddenly become angry, weepy, sullen, and moody for no good reason save to confuse the teacher and bring the blindness of anxiety into them so that the real scam can begin to get the teacher to give them something extra to prove who is the master and who is the servant. It is a game to tire the teacher and nothing more.

They will never give up the tiring and irrelevant games to actually sit down and learn something constructive because their games are destructive in nature. They will never admit their life philosophy is detrimental, abusive, or wrong no matter what because they have a delusion they use as a fortress and that's that. They don't appreciate extra attention. They hate when people do nice things for them in a bid to make them happy. Do your best and the will look disappointed as they reject the gesture as if it were beneath them. They always find a reason to hate and disrespect the teacher and should the teacher see through their lies and tell the truth, they will deny it and throw it in the teacher's face as proof of the instructor's prejudice against them, stupidity, and wicked nature.

He is merely reading the preset script as he ignores everything around him. It's the reason why he can never find the real goal in the first place. He has a narrative to prove and the magical script will do it for him without him having to actually work.

These people are *never* at fault. Gods and angels have nothing on them, the poor wretched souls who always find someone hurting their feelings as they actively and without provocation tear the feelings of others to shreds to suit their own twisted purposes. Everyone has always done them wrong, they sneer as they pray you try to reason with them and whatever you try will be twisted as your honour is used against you. They will always tell you that your observations are not fact or experience, but you mere opinion as if they are wiser or more moral than you and see the truth about the situation -- and you hoping to shake your confidence to get inside your head to control you. Make a single "misstep" (and everything you do is a misstep according to them), and the Pro-Passive person will use it against you for the rest of eternity, hoping you feel guilt and shame as they try to break you and laugh in your face for falling for their sick games.

When you are a teacher, you may think you have done something to offend this individual, but pay attention, and you will see they always play the same game with everyone from their peers, coworkers, and family. They have stumbled upon an early age that throwing tantrums and wallowing in self-pity turned them into puppet-masters. Cut the strings and watch them stew as they behave as a spoiled brat whose favourite toy got broken -- the problem is you are the toy in question. The Pro-Passive see people as objects, never people.

The only time I have had Pro-Passive learners come around was when their games or even bad luck puts them in a precarious position and now require me to bail them out as I am the one who holds the balance of power. When I do my job without prejudice, but let them know I am not trying to make them into my friends, only then do they begin to engage in earnest, but many will merely drop out of the class rather than have to be at the mercy of the person they willfully targeted for emotional destruction and now the rigged game had a land mine they did not foresee and now they have lost face and lost the war.

Because the Pro-Passive person fancies himself as a all-knowing God, and any evidence that proves that he is just a mundane screw-up who is his own worst enemy is unbearable.

I have had my share of these malicious tyrants over the years and I am not shackled by the chains of debate. If you like my teaching style, fine, if not, drop out of the class and go elsewhere. I am not the only game in town. Take it or leave it. No extra attention. No appeasement. No special treatment. No justifications. You have an issue; you also have options. I am your shepherd and if you don't want to go in my direction, find another shepherd. Or go it alone. I am not your mommy who has to stay awake all night to worry where I went wrong with you as the jackals you eventually try to take on will eat you alive because you overestimated your cunning. I don't care if you like me or think I am not cool, nice, moral, smart, or whatever. I get paid the same whether you show up or not, and whether you pass, fail, or drop out. The end.

As an educator, of course you find the Pro-Passive's actions terrifying because you know they will be in for a lifetime of hurt, horror, and misery. They will get used and humbled as they scheme their way to oblivion. Even if they get an opportunity, they will sabotage themselves every time because they have gotten into that bad habit far too soon. I liken it to watching the same horror movie, only with a different victim in the same scenes and yet you cannot stop the tragedy because the Pro-Passive student is sticking to the same lethal script, but they don't know the script is one for that horror movie you have been forced to watch dozens of times.

If they think they are smart to follow that script blindly and that you are a square, rube, or a jealous nut for objecting, then you realize they have reached the part of the script where there is no turning back. By not playing into their games and ignoring the script, the Pro-Passive will be livid at you, but don't ever think a light will go off in their heads. They never learn.

Why are the Pro-Passive that way? I have been told by many a pro-passive student that I am naive chump in thinking education has any merit -- they all have big plans to latch themselves on to fools who will support them. They will sleep their way to marrying someone wealthy or milk their parents for all they are worth. They will scam people because they are the Great Pretenders and anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot who deserves to be humiliated in a public forum with the snickering jabs. They think they have found the magical alternative to effortful education. To them, there are two kinds of people: people who play other people and people who get played.

But it is the Pro-Passive who play themselves. Life passes them by. They marry those who lose respect for them. They burn all of their bridges and they fall behind as those other kinds of learners get further ahead -- including the Passive ones.

Which brings me to Matriarchal Storytelling.

The Patriarchal Style is all about a single point of view, and that stratified structure does not gives us leeway to explore other points of thinking in the same story. Many toxic ideologies are made to seem noble in the Patriarchal Style because we do not have a way of comparing them to others. Political Correctness sets in and questioning heroes often leads to accusations of insensitivity because readers are exposed to a single viewpoint. We forget that perceptions deceive us and that discovering truth and reality does not come from passively accepting our flawed perceptions as absolute fact.

But the Matriarchal style breaks down those confines and allows the author to explore multiple perspectives in a single story. If we look at the narrative of a Pro-Passive character, we will be given a sob story with a laundry list of excuses why he failed: he had bad teachers who did not "understand" him and he wasn't nurtured, forcing him to lash out.

In the Patriarchal Style, we have to take a narrator at his word, but in the Matriarchal, we put that narrative to the test. We see how their toxic beliefs have harmed others and dragged down those who tried to help them as they sabotaged those around them who wished for a better life. We see those who are active do more with fewer resources. We challenge their arrogant ways and manipulative schemes by giving readers multiple narratives. We break down the narrative gates and their temper tantrums become that much uglier. They may claim their are owed, but when we look at the bottom line, we see it is them who owe countless people an apology for stealing away time, confidence, and resources from others. We question their excuses. We examine their games. We see that far from their story being of the one always wronged, that they have a long list of sins to answer for, yet their biggest victim is always themselves.

The world's greatest enemy is the Pro-Passive ones because they always have a reason why everyone must fail along with them. If the world is to ever pull out of the cycle of misery, it will be because the Pro-Passive are finally thrown in the hot seat with their every nightmare come true: that they aren't the all-wise, all-knowing street tough who knows everything, but the destructive fool who knows nothing because he is too busy clinging to his issues to learn anything of value to make his life one worth living.

But it all begins when we open our stories to news ways of telling them as we discard the scripts that have sunk many a person for far too long.