Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I could not help but draw some parallels between this messy situation and my own little slice of heaven. The demographic of my school is about 90% Low German Mexican Mennonite immigrants with a sprinkling of more "traditional" western Canadian kids. In our school we have tried modeling our values. We have tried enticing the our students. Some of us have even tried legislating crowd sourced regulations (aka classroom rules). Our kids do not share our values (granted, this is a blanket statement that has too many holes to keep me warm at night but I still believe that it holds enough water to be useful diagnostically). I believe that this may be the missing link. We can make all of the rules and regulations that we want but until they buy into our value system they will only have a situational relationship with us and try their best not to get caught overtly transgressing the imposed regulations.
Where does this leave us? Well, I'm lost. But I believe that this is an opportunity for us to find and define ourselves. The first thing that I think that we need to do as a community is to define for ourselves what our core values are. And I'm talking like our top four or five most relevant, significant, overarching values that encompass all of the seemingly silly things that we ask our little angels to do. From there we can move away from our class room regulations and move toward exemplars of how we uphold our shared community values. We can have a Star Value for each month with activities and more incentives and contests. We can make it a regular part of our classroom discourse. We need to overtly identify, advertise and promote these values so that our kids can finally see where we are coming from and why we expect the things of them that we do. My greatest hope is that this will help the next time that they are faced with a choice to ask themselves what they should do instead of what they can get out of the situation in the right here and right now.
Sorry for yet another rant but I was inspired and I had to share it with you. You've probably already considered this stuff. Let me know what you think our values should be.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
I've been thinking a lot about motivation recently. What is motivation? If motivation were a currency, how could you acquire it? Does it come in different denominations like bills? Does it have different values based on where it comes from like dollars and euros? Are some people born rich with motivation while others have to earn it and other may have it given to them? I just don't know. But I have recently watched Dan Pink talk about the gap between what science knows about motivation and what business (and schools for that matter) does to motivate people.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I feel very strongly that there is great value in propagating the use of social conventions such as using the "magic words". My adherence to the use of these “silly” words is rooted in my belief that words really are magical. Words have power: latent, raw, mystic power. It is this power that fuels self-fulfilling prophecies and predictions (positive as well as negative). When we incorporate these silly words into our everyday vernacular, we improve the chance that their sentiment will be imbued in our daily interpersonal interactions and become a part of our paradigms. Some argue that using these words do give you the power to "manipulate the responses" of people whose values are rooted in the Canadian culture. We are a proudly polite (and some other cultures might argue pretentiously polite) people. We love that about ourselves and I for one hope that we never let this virtue be taken away from us. When you employ these social contrivances you tell other people that you have enough respect for them and empathy for them as fellow human beings to adhere to these somewhat cumbersome conventions. And when my two year old son tells the bakery lady at Safeway "tah tu", he has just manage to earn huge social currency in that interpersonal interaction; social currency that will earn large dividends someday when he interacts with other "more traditional elders" who hold the balance of power in our society. Is this why we do it? Hopefully not. But it sure is a nice perk. In this age of globalization we have to decide which uniquely Canadian qualities we want to keep and defend. I believe that our adherence to this Canadian value is one of our great gifts to the world and all of the other cultures that come to be part of our great experiment. Pleases and thank yous are important. Magic words are magical after all.