The Err in Erratic

Erratic means unpredictable. It comes from the Latin root errare which means to stray. When we think of erratic behavior, we think of behavior that strays from the norm for a person or how a person’s behavior differs from that of the social norm.

Err also comes from the same Latin root errare, but means to make a mistake or do wrong.

What’s interesting here is that one’s erratic behavior, a behavior that may seem to stray from what a collective “we” considers “normal” is typically seen as that person making a mistake. They are doing something wrong.

Perhaps in a given situation, this may seem true based on the exhibited behavior. For example, let’s say a teenager with a processing speed learning difficulty is acting out at school. The learning difficulty is known and shows up regularly in classroom behavior. That would be expected, and therefore “normal” in our eyes. When socializing, would the same difficulty with processing speed be considered if the student gets into arguments with peers? Or, if the student is deemed defiant by authorities because they perceive the delay in response time in order to process the request as an act of defiance? Would this then lead to repeated and more frustrated requests, which in turn would frustrate the student and perhaps result in erratic behaviors?

Repeat this process several times per day over the course of a young life and erratic behavior is now a norm for that child. Not directly because of the learning difficulty, but because how everyone else without the learning difficulty (the normies) are responding. We are hard-wired for self-preservation. In this type of situation, even though the student’s behaviors being addressed/disciplined may be erratic, who actually erred? The greatest mistake to make is the failure to be kind. We all too often over-complicate academic and/or social interventions thinking diagnostically. Kindness is the first intervention. That’s our choice and responsibility. Kindness, sadly, currently seems to be more of an erratic behavior than blame.

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Aspiring Stoic and Doting Father

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