Self-esteem is not…

self esteemBuilding self-esteem is NOT about creating false expectations that the world will be easy.

It IS about showing kids that they have talents and can please people.

Building self-esteem is NOT about cultivating self-centered kids who expect the world to bow to them.

It IS about healing children’s hearts that have been broken by broken families.

Self-esteem is NOT about deluded them about competition and making them think they will win without effort, discipline and vision.

It IS about fostering effort, discipline and vision in people who have none.

Self-esteem is NOT about flattery or false praise.

It IS about finding positives in a world accustomed to negatives.

I’m a believer in self-esteem building. My close friend came from a very broken home. I can’t print the words he used to describe his parents. He had an old school teacher who ran his classroom like a dictatorship. As much of a jerk as he was, the teacher left my friend with a golden nugget. At the end of the semester he said. “It’s too bad you waste so much talent.”

My friend’s take-away? For the first time in his life, he got the notion that he was good at something. He possessed “so much talent.”

This prompted him to try to get into an advanced writing class, to which he was admitted. Ultimately he went to college, the first in his extended family to do so.

That is what self-esteem building is about.

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Blessings and difficulties of running private schools

non-prophetPrivate schools don’t have to follow the politician’s whim. They don’t have to constantly “reform” education. They don’t have to crowd their rooms and pass through dropouts.

But private schools struggle financially. They don’t have public funds. They often operate on very small properties and pay their teachers a miserable wage. Despite these limitations, they accomplish great things.

What are blessings and difficulties you have found with non-profit schools?

Being a likeable teacher helps kids learn

Likeable teachers help kids learnEducation is NOT just about picking up a book and reading it – if you like the book, you learn things. But education has to be right for a person; it’s an extremely personal thing: we like certain people for certain reasons and don’t like certain people for different reasons.

The same could be said about the classroom where a child finds himself. It is all about how the kid perceives the teacher and how she perceives him. If he is in a classroom where he likes the teacher and she likes him, then possibly he will listen and learn from her.

If, however, the teacher is the type who compares one of her students with another student and hurts the feelings of one (the one who was on the unfavorable end of a comparison) then the classroom/teacher isn’t working well because not only the feelings of one kid were turned off toward the teacher/learning what she had to say, but so were the feelings of all the kids who liked the kid who got so ill-compared.

It’s amazing how much psychology interplays with actual learning. We should never dismiss the adage that teachers are like second parents. Love plays a role in learning.

Old school school

progress of educationMaybe I’m too nostalgic. I mean I don’t want to go back to the days when college was all in Latin and Greek.

But the ubiquitous electronic device has replaced books. I remember as a kid reading the dictionary and arming myself with cool college words to sharpen my writing.

That’s why a sadness comes over me when I see kids using the dictionary to prop open the window. Sigh! What has happened to you, my friend the dictionary? Is this all you’re good for now?

It would seem, on the whole, that we are becoming largely illiterate as a nation. I understand the skills are shifting and the new careers need less penmanship and spelling. But… Something inside me still wants to drill the basics. Am I now among the copyists who fail to see their demise with the advent of the printing press?

Motivating the unmotivated

books' powerAs a child, I lived in a dreamworld of books. Narnia transported me beyond the wardrope. James took me on his journey with the giant peach. I visited other countries, continents and even planets. Books were a marvel to me.

Now I marvel to see that kids don’t read. Their dreamworld is their smartphone.

Technology has put learning at kids’ fingertips — and they don’t want to learn!

Recently, I am having the kids read Hamlet, and some fall asleep in class!

The negative side in me worries we are heading back to the Dark Ages. The positive side in me is trying to strike the fire in the cold world of anti-learning of today.