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David Newton-Dines

Managing Director, DJ Squared Limited

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Rate educators based on their empathy alone.

The only real measure of effectiveness regarding an educator is that they treat each child (from pre-school to university) individually.

If they do that, then that child will receive the very best education possible. Currently, too many educators take a formulaic approach and effectively blame the child if they don't understand.

By scoring educators based on their empathy, it removes the nonsense of cheating at annual tests simply to stay employed. Yes many would go, however, that might then mean that the lost vocational element of education might reemerge.

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    May 4 2013: This information about relationships is just as important for parents as it is for educators. I'm a teacher in a Glasser Quality School and we emphasize building strong relationships with our students and helping them learn how to build strong relationships with their friends and family, as well. In For Parents and Teenagers: Dissolving the Barrier Between You and Your Teen, Dr. Glasser says, "The secret of a successful relationship between any two people when the power in unequal is for the person with the most power to do as much as he or she can to show respect for the weaker person's position…..Your teen may be weaker but he is not without the ability to do himself and others a lot of harm by showing you that you can't control him at school or anywhere else when he is out of your sight. As I will state over and over in this book, when he is on his own, your only control over him is the strength of your relationship."
    This is so true and one of the first things people who visit our school comment on is the amazing feeling of friendship and community in our building.

    One last comment. At a Glasser Quality School, students are not allowed to settle for anything less than B quality work. This seems ultimately respectful to us. We are the educational professionals in their lives and if we write down in our record books that they have earned C's, D's, F's, and zeros, then too often, children interpret this as a statement that they are C, D, F, and Zero people. They carry this belief inside them somewhere throughout their lives. Instead, when the school itself says, "We KNOW you can earn at least a B on this topic, if you keep at it. We will help you figure out how you learn best. We are there for you. Don't give up," then on a deep level, students realize their own personal power. We see transformations every day. For instance, right now, I'm sitting in a classroom with students on a Saturday night, writing their own play to produce. Fun!
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        May 5 2013: The concept of failure is hurting kids and has been hurting kids as long as it has existed. For instance, my father, who became a renowned NASA scientist and who invented metals that could endure the stresses of outer space, was so damaged by failing fifth grade, that he refused to do any more education after high school and became a NASA mechanic, eventually rising to be a metals technologist who traveled the world, teaching the people at Boeing and in Japan how to do what he did. He overcame the feeling of failure in this way, but he took a very low salary as a technician because he wouldn't take a risk of failure in college courses and become an engineer. He had already made up his mind that formal education wasn't for him. He only stayed in school long enough to graduate because my grandmother insisted and he didn't want to let her down.

        This happened in the fifties, when dropping out of high school was the norm. Today, many of our best and brightest young people feel no connections with adults at school (and too often, at home as well) and consequently do not work hard to achieve. They accept mediocre grades, or even failing grades and barely get by.

        We can demonstrate at our school that these students are every bit as able to accomplish great things as the kids who make A's and B's and go on to Ivy League schools. They just aren't connected to the system, and they resist.

        There's no point in designating anyone a failure. It doesn't make them tougher. It slows them down. It creates self doubt where none is necessary. Every single student can make it and learn and enjoy themselves. All that is required is the time given and the relationships built and the intellect challenged in a meaningful way.
      • May 5 2013: I think you have a point.

        Parents have largely messed up but that is now behind us and we have to deal with the today and tomorrow. Hence my suggestion.

        That said, once junior goes home and starts displaying empathetic tendencies it WILL rub off on those who are saveable.

        One other thing to remember here. Going to a wonderful university does not guarantee you a decent job. Simple IQ (no matter how hi) is no longer enough. There is so much evidence flying around we can no longer ignore that Emotional Intelligence (at who's heart sits empathy) makes you 4 times more successful both in a business sense as well as a personal sense.
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        May 7 2013: Dear ZX Style, (For some reason, the red Reply button isn't available, so I'm using an earlier one) This is in reply to your comment in which you paraphrase me. That was a good strategy because it lets me know how to clarify. I don't mean that we shouldn't let kids feel like failures. I mean we should completely do away with the entire concept of defining people as failures because that strategy ends up with too many of our citizens quitting learning too early. If you give a student a C, D, or F, you're letting them know that you're accepting low achievement from them. If you say, "This part is good, but this part needs work and here are some strategies for improving it," then the student doesn't just settle for a lower achievement, but pushes further, learns more. Isn't this what we want? I don't believe that kids don't like to learn. I've never met a single kid (and I've been working in schools all over the world, including huge city schools in the US for 35 years)who didn't like to learn, when the teacher made an effort to show how what was being learned was relevant and fun. I don't think we have to have a choice between harsh teachers and learning. I think all teachers can learn how to help students love learning, without harshness. We don't have to tolerate misbehavior in classes so that learning doesn't happen, but we don't have to be harsh either. Choice Theory is one method I've learned that helps students take a look at whatever behaviors they're using that aren't helping them learn and stay in classes. If a teacher has high expectations, AND helps students form loving and supportive relationships with the teacher and classmates, much MORE learning takes place, in my experience.
    • May 5 2013: Very nice, but how do you teach children to think for themselves?
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        May 5 2013: Easy. We ask them to think. For instance, at a Glasser Quality School, students take on a lot of the work of running the school. A good example would be that we have applicants from schools in our district throughout the year. Students taking the Leadership course create a workshop to get to know these applicants and their families. They invite them in for the workshop and do interviews and make recommendations to the Admissions Committee. They also make a list of the challenges they believe these students will face when they arrive in our school the following year and suggestions as to how we can support them. Students are also in charge of running the weekly Community Meetings. They organize retreats and Community Days. They travel around with me to various universities and conferences to teach about Glasser Quality Schools and how they have impacted their lives. In classes, they have the opportunity to think, as well. I am currently teaching a course called English Through Drama and the 17 students in the class built a strong relationship with one another, as we were studying world dramas from Greek theater to contemporary works. We became a writer's workshop and helped each other improve writing skills, all with the goal of writing our own full-length play together and performing it for the community. These students, many who have never wanted to stay after school to accomplish anything, met with me last night, Saturday, until 10pm, writing, writing, writing. They are pushing themselves to make sure the play is done in time to present before the end of the school year. We believe that this dedication to the achievement of Quality Work is an important element in helping humans develop happiness in their lives. They no longer want to settle for a job. They want a career that matters to them. We help them figure out what they need and want and how to bring it to pass. That's a deep level of thought that often isn't required in public education.
        • May 5 2013: Finally, a school with a brain. From what you're telling me, your teachers are more like moderators, something I've been pushing for several years now. Tell me, does your school teach first graders on and to what grade or college?

          One other thing, what new things have your students brought to the world that none other has? People that can think for themselves bring new thinking on a fairly continuous basis. Yes, I am one or I would not say such.

          Here is one of my less controversial offerings.


          The science of running by Jim Ryan.

          Yes, I used to run 10 miles a day for about 2 years. For whatever reason, I started counting a cadence in my head, that matched the cadence of my footfalls and my breathing, which synced body and mind, helping me to get into a trance like state, allowing me to run mile after mile without stress and the last mile I could run almost flat out.

          I know they teach different things today, but give my method a try, I think you'll like it. By the way, keep your eyes focused just in front of you, on the ground.

          The cadence in running I used to use was, "one two three one", " one two three two", "one two three three", and keep going.

          It's a 4 count breathing in and then a 4 count breathing out.

          Happy running.

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