What Educators Can Learn from “Breaking Bad”

breaking bad posterThis summer I binge watched “Breaking Bad” with my son Paul. The content was repulsive with topics such as meth cooking, murder, and teasing out the subtle difference between a junkie and an addict. However, the story was riveting and the character development was fantastic. An interesting benefit of binge watching is an increased knowledge of the title of the episodes. There were back-to-back episodes named “Half Measure” and “Full Measure.”

Mike, the ex-cop/fixer/killer, explained the difference with regret for a half measure. The half measure took the same amount of time and energy as the full measure – but without the certainty of a full measure. A half measure has the consequence eroded by weakness, hopefulness, or mercy. A full measure maintains the natural consequence…A harder, cleaner exchange.

As educators, we navigate this line each day. This is the line where justice and mercy collide. It is challenging to tell when we are enabling poor behavior or helping a student whom we care about make it through the day. Once every few years, a student will not graduate with his or her class. At that moment the faculty wishes it could collectively go back in time and trade some half measure for full. The regretful pain of giving a student too much latitude and then seeing them fall through the cracks is not equal to the discipline expense it takes to actively care for the students and witness their ascendance into productive adulthood.

I am going for more Full Measures this school year!

What are you going for?

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