20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Holly Jahangiri
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 21:59:30

    Oh, SO glad you asked – can I be the first to answer that challenge?

    Two stories here, really: http://jahangiri.us/new/2008/12/12/consider-the-source/

    One’s about prejudging anyone, really; the other’s specifically about a teacher who touched my life when I was young.


  2. Joy Page Manuel
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 10:05:06

    I don’t have anything (yet) for your challenge but I do want to say that I was struck by your saying that we also do harm to our kids when we reward them for something they’re supposed to do. That’s an excellent point! And I will remember that! I’ve always said that accountability is one of the most impt. things for the youth to learn and this will not happen if we keep babying them. What I’m forgetting, it seems, is that a lot of adults also don’t practice, nor believe in accountability. And THAT is a huge problem.


    • bornstoryteller
      Aug 12, 2011 @ 10:58:44

      Thank you Joy. I’m glad you saw my point. This past week, a nine year old went above and beyond the “call of duty” when that..ahem..mother kept her daughter from our first show. I felt he needed a special for it: bought him an ice cream w/sprinkles. You should have seen the glow from him.

      You do what you’re supposed to do? Good. No reward. Nada. You were SUPPOSED to do it. Homework on time? you are supposed to do it. Be quiet in class and focus? You are supposed to do it.

      Not only bring in your homework, but bring in something extra to share and present when not called for, finding the excitement in discovery, etc etc etc…yeah, gold star time. The other feel bad? Fuck ’em…they should. They should also work harder, to go that extra step.


  3. mumuGB
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 10:24:21

    Hi Stuart! I actually have one example. When we moved to London, my daughter couldn’t speak English and, to be completely frank, neither could I. She was 3 at the time and was having nightmares because she couldn’t understand anything.
    The school was really helpful. They gave her a book with pictures to show what she wanted. As for me, I volunteered to teach French nursery rhymes to the kids. At the end of the year, my daughter was fluent in English and all the 30 kids knew a few songs in French, they could all count to 20, name colours and make simple sentences. It was a great experience and everybody was impressed!


  4. smith71
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 13:29:52

    This is an awesome story. Unfortunately some of us older parents needed you around when we were trying to raise our children. Even after they have become grown, Thank God, we have another chance with our grand children.


  5. Hocam
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 06:32:13

    Amen, Amen Amen. This should be printed and laminated on large poster boards and be placed at every school door. Will email you later with a positive story.


  6. Penelope J.
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 16:01:25

    This must be one of your best posts to date as it not only lays out the problem but also offers solutions. I was especially struck with the one about rewarding a child for what they are supposed to do which happens all too frequently nowadays, and is actually seen as an acceptable way to motivate kids. That makes them less likely to go on to real achievements that do deserve a reward.

    I’m afraid I cannot rise to your challenge as there was no such thing in my personal life, either in my unusual education or with my kids though I was in close personal contact with most of their teachers. However, I was fortunate enough to have “one” teacher for all of two years who made a big difference to what had previously been a spotty education. I owe my careers in advertising, research, and writing to that traditional, old-fashioned but liberal, forever single Miss Ethel Comstock from New York State living in Mexico City who, in the 50s, believed that women should make more of their lives than just being dutiful housewives.


    • bornstoryteller
      Aug 13, 2011 @ 16:55:16

      Hi Penelope: thank you. If you look back, I often try to offer not just supporting views but positive solutions. If I err in that dept, let me know, as It’s ALWAYS my intention to offer ideas for positive change. That is what my whole “ideal school” is about.


  7. Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 16:58:17

    It is amazing that this factor is ROUTINELY overlooked in every school/teacher evaluation. A disinterested parent provides every potential disincentive for a child to perform. No, it does not stop them, there are kids who can overcome everything (or almost everything). But, if we want all our kids to succeed, we must recognize that it starts with mom and dad… long before Johnny ever gets to school and continues until Johnny leaves home…


    • bornstoryteller
      Aug 13, 2011 @ 17:17:13

      Thanks Roy. The whole “oh, I’m so tired” blah blah blah…does not cut water with me. If you have to have others monitor your child, then you STILL need to have full involvement.

      The ones I DO detest: the wealthy, who think Nannies and Au Pairs are proper substitutes for parenting.


  8. Lalia
    Aug 14, 2011 @ 07:30:42

    This is beautiful Stuart. I may have to print it and laminate it for my sister in law who probably has committed every one of those “sins”. As someone who is not a mother I keep my mouth shut about how people raise their children. But as a human with some sense it pisses me off when I see people doing the things you mentioned.


    • bornstoryteller
      Aug 14, 2011 @ 08:37:16

      Thank you Lalia: I’ve mentioned this to one or two others: I’d be more than happy to send them the link as a “someone thought you’d benefit from reading this” thing.


  9. Samantha Bangayan
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 21:34:46

    This post had me reminiscing on the Chinese way of raising children, which is the opposite of what you describe! =) My parents’ lived by strictness and little praise because praise would spoil a child, so they thought. There’s always a balance to be sought.


  10. Adriene (Sweepy Jean)
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 22:42:06

    I so agree with you, Stu. As the parent of two college graduates, one with her master’s, I can say firsthand that it works. It’s more than being hypervigilant and jumping all over the teachers and the system for real and perceived inadequacies. But it’s about being interested, helpful, and supportive of the children–asking questions, teaching them to problem solve. Also, as you said, it’s knowing when to allow the student to flex their muscles, letting them work hard instead of protecting them from stress or failure. They have to learn by doing.


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