Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Weather Rope

My older brother and I recently had a discussion about school journals that were a part of our reading program at school in New Zealand all those years ago.  He reminded me about a story that had made a huge impact on him called The Weather Rope. Perhaps it was the fact that we grew up in a farming community where the weather was always a topic of discussion "We need rain." Or "Wish it would stop raining so we can get the hay in." Perhaps it was the possibility of being able to control things over which we had no control.

The story told of a community that discovered a weather rope that hung from the sky.  All one had to do was to go and pull on the rope to get a change in the weather.  If the community wanted rain then the rope was pulled and hey presto there was rain.  Then if the rain was sufficient for the grass to grow, the rope was pulled again and there was the sunshine to dry up all the puddles.

This all went along very well until people started to disagree with what they wanted.  Some wanted it to stop raining so they could go to the beach.  Others wanted wind to dry the washing.  The gardeners wanted the wind to stop so that the roses would not be blown away.  The arguments began and people were pulling the rope so often and so hard to get what they wanted, that the suddenly the rope fell out of the sky.  People could not longer get what they wanted.

This is so true in life.  People have different wants.  We know that we are driven by what we want to match our Quality World pictures.  Our choices in behaving to get what we want may result, as in the story, in none of us getting what we want.

I have a favourite cartoon which depicts two characters in a stand off,  each with a rolled up magazine ready to strike .  The caption says "No way.  I'll put my magazine down when you put yours down."

I think if we both lay down 'our magazines' and negotiated, listened, supported- all the connecting habits, we would not lose our 'weather rope' and be more likely to both get what we want.

In the words of the Irish Blessing...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quality Schools

In a quest for quality there are schools all around the world implementing practices that align with Choice Theory.  This is not an easy thing to do.  If we look at the conditions for quality we can see why this is difficult.

1.A warm, supportive classroom environment.
This is difficult when you are feeling out of balance yourself.  Someone once said " You can't give what you haven't got" If you are feeling out of balance then it is difficult to give that warm supportive environment so needed for quality work to be achieved. 

2.  Students are asked only to do useful work.

"We have the test coming up and I don't think that my students have had enough practice at doing those comprehension examples. We had better do more rather than that lesson I planned on setting up a class business."

3.  Students are always asked to do the best they can do.

It always seems that we put time ahead of quality work.  In a classroom where you have a range of learners  and learning styles; where some student complete work more quickly than others. It is very difficult to allow the time for students to do the best that they can.

4.  Students are asked to evaluate their own work and improve it.

This is the key to quality and indeed to intrinsic motivation, yet time taken to use this form of evaluation is not given.  Rather we tend to use teacher evaluation most often in our attempt to get the results that we want.

5.  Quality work always feels good

When the time is given to take something to a level of quality, when it is perceived as useful, when the classroom is warm and supportive and students are proud of their work, then it does feel good.

 6.  Quality work is never destructive

This photo was taken in a classroom in a New Zealand school recently. It demonstrates the quality work being done in this classroom.

 Henderson North School in Auckland

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Revisit of Mental Health

In September 2005, Dr Glasser wrote a small booklet  entitled Defining Mental Health as a Public Health Issue.  The description that Dr Glasser gives for mental health - as opposed to mental illness is as follows.

You are mentally healthy if you enjoy being with most of the people you know, especially with the important people in your life such as family, sexual partners and friends.  Generally you are happy and are more than willing to help an unhappy family member, friend or colleague to feel better.  You lead a mostly tension free life, laugh a lot and rarely suffer from the aches and pains that so many people accept as an unavoidable part of living,  You enjoy life and have not trouble accepting other people who think and act differently from you.  It rarely occurs to you to criticise or try and change anyone.  If you have differences with someone else you will try and work out the problem; if you can't you will walk away before you argue and increase the difficulty.

You are creative in what you attempt and may enjoy more of your potential that you ever thought possible.  Finally even in very difficult situations when you are unhappy - no one can be happy all the time - you'll know you are unhappy and attempt to do something about it,  You may even be physically handicapped as was Christopher Reeve, and still fit the criteria above.