Words to Teach By

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I begin with Haim Ginott:

I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.

I remind myself often of Ginott’s inspiring and cautionary words. And then there’s Michel de Montaigne, who invented the personal essay:

If . . . teachers undertake to regulate many minds of such different capacities and forms with the same lesson and a similar measure of guidance, it is no wonder if in a whole race of children they find barely two or three who reap any proper fruit from their teaching.

Robert Hutchins, in Great Books: The Foundation of a Liberal Education (1954):

If any common program is impossible, if there is no such thing as an education that everybody ought to have, then we must admit that any community is impossible.

. . . and Hutchins again:

The art of teaching consists in large part of interesting people in things that ought to interest them, but do not.

6 thoughts on “Words to Teach By”

  1. The teacher’s first duty is to ensure that every student in his care feels safe, both physically and psychologically.

    This means that the teacher must treat each student with care and consideration.

    With lovingkindness.

    With courtesy, and respect. —Alex Morgan

  2. If . . . teachers undertake to regulate many minds of such different capacities and forms with the same lesson and a similar measure of guidance, it is no wonder if in a whole race of children they find barely two or three who reap any proper fruit from their teaching.

    —Michel de Montaigne (1533-92)
    “Of the Education of Children”

  3. “Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.”
    —Richard L. Evans

  4. . . . Knowledge often flies out of their grasp when they are scared. Faced with frustration, despair, worry, sadness, or shame, kids lose access to their own memory, reasoning, and the capacity to make connections.

    Scared kids perform poorly, and don’t learn new information well. Anxiety is the enemy of memory.

    And, sadly, in many of today’s classrooms, we see children whose intellectual energies and capacities are drained by negative emotional states. Emotion is the on / off switch for learning.

    Sensitive people have been observing this for years, but now objective information from neurology substantiates our hunches.

    —PriscillaVail

    http://www.schwablearning.org/pdfs/expert_vail.pdf

  5. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. If you care about them as people first, they will play harder for you.”
    —Ted Nolan, NHL Hockey Coach, quoted by David Amber, March 2007, espn.com

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