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The Taking Charge® Approach

Two Linguistic Coaches, Erik Quillen and Michael Penafiel, have pointed out that Taking Charge® is strikingly different from other behavioral intervention or character-building approaches taken with individuals with learning or behavioral challenges. There are three common approaches:

  • The “compliance approach” used in youth or adult corrections, boot camps, and behavior modification programs;
  • The “compassion and understanding approach” often seen in the media as the story of the dedicated family member, friend, social worker, or teacher who “saves” another individual. It is a made for TV movie about the adult turning around the life of the individual with challenges;
  • The “tough love” approach, a balance between the adult setting up stringent rules or putting exacting systems in place to change someone’s behavior and the adult caring so much about the child, youth or adult that their behavior changes. A parent’s or caregiver’s decision to seek a therapeutic, residential, or “wilderness-type” program for their troubled teen could be seen as an example of the “tough love” approach.

In contrast, Taking Charge® recognizes that the one person missing from the other approaches is the learner. Taking Charge® holds that we are all innate learners. Thus, our capacity to learn is not a function of our intellectual, physical, biological, cultural, familial abilities or background, gender or age. We are all whole, able, and complete just the way we are and just the way we are not.

Taking Charge® uses a system of conversational analysis called Linguistic Coaching® to empower all learners to make effective choices and take personal responsibility for their own learning breakdowns and successes in life. Linguistic Coaching® is a conversation in which learners work in partnership to create a learning ecology of mutual learning, mutual trust, and mutual respect. In such a learning ecology, we are empowered to examine how our underlying self-narratives and the underlying commitments in our speaking and listening, our speech acts, close or open possibilities for learning and effective, coordinated action.

The Taking Charge® approach has been used effectively for over forty-five years with learners of all ages and all levels of receptive and expressive language abilities. Taking Charge® has found that it is often our own self-narratives as educators, parents or caregivers, administrators, therapists, etc. that close or open possibilities for learners to see themselves as whole, able, and complete, just as they are an just as they are not; capable and able of making effective choices and taking personal responsibility for their learning breakdowns and learning successes in life. We invite you to enjoy your journey into the world of Taking Charge®!