Thursday, June 11, 2009

Big smiles? School must be out

That was front page news in the Houston Chronicle. In that view, school represents the curse of Adam, the burden of work you don't want to do.

Poor children.

I am reminded of one of our graduates, Travis Caton, whom we interviewed several years ago when he was a senior at Bellaire High School. It was right after Christmas break and Travis recalled phone conversations with some of his high school classmates who were whooping it up because school was out. He joined in the whoopery because he did not want to be seen as a total dork. In the interview he expressed his real feelings:

"I think that school is a privilege. Learning is a privilege."

A rare comment from a football player? Just what I would expect from a Montessori kid. Don't get me wrong, Montessori kids love summer. But our headline would feature the tears we see every May as our kids mourn their separation from a learning environment prepared specially for them. Not the curse of Adam, but the Garden of Eden itself.

Motivation, part 2

"If you're lucky, you've had a Dan Green in your life. He's that special coach, the one who cussed the loudest, pushed the hardest, cared the most."

Cussed the loudest?

Pushed the hardest?

To do what? Make me perform better?

What emotion undergirds such tactics? Fear. Even in the name of caring. I will intimidate you into performing better becasue you are afraid that I'll curse at you. Or like Bobby Knight in one famous incident, choke you. Because I care for you. Want you to do your best.

Do we need abuse from others to do our best?

Darth Vader provoked Luke Skywalker's anger. This caused young Luke to up his effort, to fight harder--to do better. Mr. Vader did so intentionally because he knew that the anger pushed Luke to the Dark Side.

Yes, there is motivation there. The motivation of the Dark Side. All rewards and punishments and manipulation are motivators from the Dark Side, highjacking our true selves, our true desires. They stop us from hearing our calling, the inner voice, the inner motivation that will last for a lifetime. The chance we have to work with joy rather than with a sense of drudgery.

stanky legg dance

"As the school year draws to a close, principals are delivering on promises made during the fall to encourage campus unity and coax extra effort from students. Houston-area school leaders are eating worms, shaving their heads, dancing on roofs, kissing a donkey, spraying their hair various colors and performing the stanky legg dance to the delight of students who said they worked a little harder this year in the hopes of seeing straight-laced administrators embarrass themselves."


This is what drives the advance of civilization?

Or was Dr. Montessori correct when she said every child is motivated from within?

When she said it is not our job to force children to learn, but rather to inspire them?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marshmallow Study: Part II

Blog of the day:

A follow-up on the marshmallow study: includes video footage of 4-year olds confronted with a marshmallow and the idea of delayed gratification.