Monday, September 1, 2008

The First Week of High School and Science at the Olympics: What Do They Teach Us About Creating Success?

Last week my daughter had her first week of 9th grade at Nashua High School South. She worried and prepared herself for the daunting task of being a freshman at a very large school. You could see her wheels turning in anticipation of how she could ever survive in such a school. Well on the third day of school an administrator took it upon himself to make an example of my very shy and quiet little girl.

It seems he didn't like the fact that she had left her food tray in the cafeteria. She had left it with her friends because they were still eating the french fries on her tray. He sent a girl to chase her down and bring her back. He took her ID card while yelling at her and told her to go to his office. She got lost having no idea where the office was and she was again reprimanded for getting there late. By this time she was in hysterics having no idea what was going on or how to get out of this problem that kept escalating. Then the administrator called my wife on the phone to complain about her behavior. My daughter was in complete meltdown at this point and could barely speak to my wife. The administrator then had the nerve to tell my wife that he expects parents to support the school and make sure that students pick up after themselves. He strongly hinted that we were not making the grade as parents. My wife was now shocked and didn't know what to say. What a complete buffoon that man was. I am sure he felt powerful and in control having picked on the smallest and quietest girl he could find in the school and I guess the students at Nashua South know who the "big man" is in charge of things now!

How easy it would have been for this man to gently say to my daughter's friends, "I know that when you are finished eating the fries that you will put your friend's tray away!" That would have solved the "clean-up" issue and we wouldn't have to do damage control all weekend trying to let her know that high school will be OK! In fact now we have the task of trying to get her back into a positive frame of mind about the next four years at this school.

Teachers and administrators there is a much better way to teach and lead children. If you can only get control by berating and bullying students then get out of the profession as you have no business being an educator!

Which brings me to an article called, "SCIENCE AT THE OLYMPICS:Can Neuroscience Provide a Mental Edge?" Maybe you saw the Olympics and American Jenn Stuczynski get berated by her coach on NBC after winning the silver medal in the pole vault. Is this good coaching? According to the psychologists and neuroscientists doing studies on athletes, a quick positive intervention helps an athlete bounce back after a poor performance. Berating an athlete seems to keep an athlete performing poorly. I don't think this is rocket science. Quality educators have known the same thing for years. Guiding is a much more effective approach than bullying.

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