The definition of self-efficacy according to Bandura, simply put, is the belief a person has in their ability to execute behaviors that are necessary to produce certain performance attainments. As I was reading the class information and trying to link it to a current situation or world circumstance, poverty and lack of educational motivation popped into my head. The material was difficult for me to read. I am ashamed to admit that fact. It took me much more time to research the words that I was unfamiliar with only to say to myself after looking them up, “well why didn’t you just say that.” I am familiar with the concept of self-efficacy. It is about believing in oneself. As I read, researched words I was not familiar with, and struggled to find a purpose for the words, I thought to myself of the life of someone living in poverty and their struggle to achieve educationally.
There were many times reading the information that I thought about dropping the course, self-doubting my abilities to complete a master’s degree at this age. I considered the fact that those of you, many of whom are much younger than I, did not seem to struggle with the content. I contemplated that many of you most likely felt at home using twitter, blogging, creating webpages, etc. As I struggled, I remembered the children I worked with at my previous place of employment, all of whom were living in poverty and three quarters were struggling in school. My mind then moved to their parents, who were the children before them. Generations of families all just trying to stay alive in a concrete jungle of a city and not caring about their “agentic” reality.
Self-efficacy is not necessarily just about an internal control mechanism. A person’s environment, culture, genetics, and experiences all play a role in the successful ability to self-motivate. Going back to my friends in poverty, let us consider this scenario. Jake is 15. He is failing school. He spends more time in out of school suspension than he does sitting in a classroom. He is one of six children and lives in a blighted neighborhood that has the second highest crime rate in the City of Erie. His father is a drug dealer. Neither his mother nor father graduated from high school. His older brother is in prison for selling drugs. His family is well known by the school system and often times he hears references such as “oh you are part of the Smith family.” Jakes family pressures him to become a part of the family business. He does not feel that he is smart enough in school. He does not feel he will succeed. He eventually quits school and enters the family business. At 17 he joins his older brother in jail.
Jake felt as if he had a lower level of intelligence than his peers and everyone in his environment actually supported this. Jake actually when tested in prison as part of the educational programming ended up testing as gifted. If we can learn how to harness the power of teaching self-efficacy, perhaps Jake’s story could be re-written.
Jake’s story reminded me a bit of Josh and his video. I think it would be more interesting to tape the life of real people in their natural environments, not all aspects of it, to see if there is a way we could identify ways to help people like Jake. I am not sure either situation is something I feel we should be doing. I am not a fan of reality television. I actually do not have a television at all. The best part of Josh’s story, was the beginning and the end to me. He contributed initially to great advances in technology in the beginning of his careers and in the end, ended up giving back to the people of a nation where he escaped. I did throughout the movie feel that Josh could have benefited from some therapy and that his life, like Jake, contained some prescriptions from his early experiences, which of course fits in with the social cognitive theories.
Those of you reading this, I do have a challenge for you. These technology lessons will increase my self-efficacy. I think for those of you who are already familiar with the technologies we are using and discussion should perhaps experience the technology of my generation. Take a little walk back in time to my first college experience. I challenge to type a three-page paper on an electric typewriter without a correction tape. While you do this, I will learn your twitter, blogging and any other form of social media and communication that has occurred since this typing. Best to all and of course, Peace in your world!