It can be a charged topic! Everyone has an opinion about the quality of each of the local schools, as well as alternatives such as homeschooling. We discuss particular teachers and which subjects should be taught and how. Testing is hotly debated. Discussions can get pretty emotional, and I totally get it! With my five children, I have tried just about everything: public school, homeschool, private school, charter school and online school-so I've been there!
Every one of these options has their strengths and weaknesses. But what is a parent to do, and how do we pick what is best for our children?
I've given a lot of thought to this, researched, talked to others and researched some more. As I've done so, I've come to see that there are four steps parents can take to optimize their child's education.
1. Realize That YOU Are The CEO (Chief Educational Officer) of Your Child's Education.
I often write about why parents need to learn skills that CEOs have, and this is one instance that proves my point. A CEO is in charge of a company, but he doesn't do it all. He doesn't do all of the accounting, all of the marketing, shipping, etc. He finds people that are the best in their field and hires THEM to do what they are best at-and they do a much better job than he ever would. But, he is still responsible. He can't turn a department over to someone who utterly fails at their job, who loses money and customers and then shrug his shoulders and say, "Well, it's not MY fault, THEY did a lousy job." The buck stops here. Therefore, schools are not responsible for your child's education--YOU are!
I love what James Ure, (who developed the CEO analogy) of the award winning Williamsburg Academy, has recommended to engaged parents:
Parent CEOs . . . view themselves as team leaders who hold ultimate responsibility for their family’s education, but view their primary function as assembling the highest quality resources and experiences for their children, wherever these resources can be found. Their kids learn from books, the Internet, online classes and clubs, outside mentors, family members, other local parents, subject-matter experts, and a variety of other sources.
(You can find his full article here.)
Some parents I know are intimidated by the idea of taking charge of their child's education. They don't want to rock the boat or go outside of the normal way of doing things. They hesitate to say anything if something is not working or not a good fit for their child. They acknowledge that teachers, principals and other administrators have gone to school to specialize in their field and many times are more expert at education than they (the parents) are.
This is true! I personally know, love and respect a lot of teachers. We need them and they do an incredible job with the limited resources we give them. But let me tell you a secret: You are the expert when it comes to your child.
You know what works, what doesn't work and how they tick. You have known them from before their birth. You will be with these children your whole life, and see how their education or lack thereof will effect them decades later. This is your job. Good parents don't only give their children life, but they prepare them for it. Take up the label of Chief Educational Officer and wear it proudly.
2. Have a Defined Educational Mission Statement
Write a mission statement. Businesses do this all the time—it helps them know what their goals are and gives them a measuring stick to know if they are successful. Deliberate parents, no matter what education system they choose, can also do this to make sure their children are getting the education that is best for them.
What is the purpose of an education to you? What does it look like? How will you know if it is successful? Are you focused on Ivy league preparation or a particular talent (music, science, sports, etc.)? Is your goal just to get them through thirteen years of education? Is it to teach them life skills or prepare them for a career? Only you can answer these questions, and the answers might be different for each child.
This mission statement is the foundation against which you will examine everything else and it will help you immensely as you make choices on behalf of your child. If you are interested in our family's mission statement, you can email me here.
3. Decide Who to Hire
Perhaps the local school supports your educational mission statement beautifully. Great! You just subcontracted that out and as long as you remain involved and up to date on your children's progress and communicate well with the teachers, you are good to go.
Maybe the local school is less than an ideal fit. Great! You just identified a way to help your child and you get to look at alternatives. Some states allow you to have partial enrollment in various schools (public, charter and/or homeschool). If your child has a real talent or need and another school or a specific teacher can help address that, perhaps you can work something out. I love this option!
If your state's laws do not specifically allow partnerships between schools, then you are probably out of luck--school administrators rarely allow this on their own. In my community, this is not allowed. But this has forced me to look closer at the resources in the community, dig a little deeper, and in the end, I decided to hire me!
That is how we got into homeschooling. (Note: I use the term "homeschooling" very loosely compared to others.) I love to teach my kids, and it brings me tremendous joy and fulfillment. But as my children grow, sometimes they need more than I can give. That is where exceptional live online classes come in, special local mentors, and additional classes from the community. Perhaps you can work out an opportunity to shadow or apprentice with a professional. Maybe you decide to focus your efforts on developing a talent or passion and turning it into a viable career. Whatever it is, the options are endless!
4. Re-evaluate and be realistic
Caution #1: What is good for one child, is not necessarily good for every child. Also, children's needs change and so do your circumstances. I have one child who is not motivated when he is being educated at home. His siblings love it, but he doesn't. We fought a lot. So he is now enrolled in a local school, though it does not align with some of our goals. But when he is accountable to someone else, he applies himself more, and that IS one of our goals.
Caution #2: You may not be able to find your ideal educational solution. Maybe you live in an area with struggling schools. Maybe you can't win the admittance lottery to get your children into other, better schools. You might work during the day, so perhaps you can't take your children to extra lessons or homeschool them. I have often felt frustrated by living too far away from great opportunities, concerned because of the cost of extra activities, and overwhelmed by what I would LIKE to do, verses what is possible and realistic. Sometimes I doubt myself and my ability to do right by my kids.
That is when I remember Ben Carson's mother. She was a single mom who was illiterate and very poor. She was concerned about her sons and the violence and poverty they faced. Then she came up with a solution that would change their lives forever: before they watched tv, they had to read a book and write a book report on it.
It sounds simple, but the change it brought about was remarkable. She couldn't even read the book reports her sons wrote, but she would randomly circle things in a red pen when she got home from work and tell them to try a little harder. They did. And because of this, her son Ben became the best pediatric brain surgeon in the world. That's not everyone's story. We aren't aiming to make history, or to make our kids famous. But we DO want them to be happy, have options in their future and live up to their potential.
Remember: YOU are your child's best resource. YOU can read to them at night. YOU can help them discover new things as you scour the internet together for things your child is interested in. YOU can help them build things. YOU are their biggest advocate with schools and teachers, YOU can hold your child accountable. YOU are their parent for a reason. They were given to you, because you are the perfect fit for them. The love you have for them is powerful. That overcomes a lack of education, money, resources, time and everything else. You've got this.
Community Question: What recommendations do you have for education? What works for you?
I am a big believer in mentors. Mentors care about you, they are invested in your success. They are more experienced and have walked at least parts of your path before. They give you tips and tricks, inspiration and practical help. They make your life better. But sometimes they can be tricky to find. I usually don't have wise old sages come down off the mountain and offer to hold my hand through life and help me be successful. Do you?
That is why I am excited to share this mentor with you. It doesn't have to be an old man in a toga who comes down off the mountain! Luckily, I have recognized that mentors are all around me. Everyone is an expert at something! My neighbors, family members, and even authors or other people I have never met have mentored me as I read their work, and they help to shape my life. I am grateful for each one of them.
I have also found that I need different mentors for different parts of my life. Power of Moms is a wonderful motherhood mentor, and now I'd like to introduce you to another mentor of mine: Michael Hyatt, who focuses on business and successful living. Michael makes my life better. I am a big fan of business principles, because I find that true principles work, no matter what your life looks like. In my family, I have to focus on team building, sales, establishing a culture, effective leadership, etc., just as much as any CEO does.
Now, Michael can be your mentor, too! His tagline is "Your Virtual Mentor: Win at Work, Succeed in Life". His website is accessible anytime, night or day, most of his help is free, and his content is top notch. More than just a business website, he also focuses on building strong relationships and living a deliberate life.
Take today for instance. I woke up discouraged and grumpy because I had not used last night well and I was still feeling frustrated with myself. Plus, I had so much to do today, that I didn't know where to put my focus. I was overwhelmed and just wanted to hide under a rock. Preferably with lots and lots of chocolate. Do any of these feelings sound familiar to you?
Happily though, I opened my inbox this morning and saw the title: "How to Bounce Back When You are Totally Overwhelmed." Just what I needed! Inside the email were several things: a podcast that Michael did with his fabulous co-host, Michele Cushatt, that included 8 helpful tips for dealing with overwhelm; an offer for a free productivity summit with some of the best (Greg McKeown, Gretchen Rubin, Sean Covey, and Chalene Johnson, just to name a few); plus a couple of other great resources!
It was perfect. After going through the podcast, I was able to change my attitude and mindset and felt re-energized to tackle my day. And I ate vegetables instead of chocolate.
You can find Michael at www.michaelhyatt.com. He always has great content, and I especially enjoy his podcasts as I am folding laundry, driving my kids to their activities, etc. If you are interested in leadership, productivity, building your own website, work/life balance or personal development, then Michael is the man for you.
To get a taste of what Michael offers, here are a few of my favorites, that I think are applicable to everyone, and that I have learned a lot from:
Podcasts Interview with Greg McKeown
The Treasure in the Trials
Escape Perfectionism Once and For All
Why the Best Leaders Are Great Followers
Community Question: Do you have a mentor? It could be anyone who inspires or helps you. A neighbor, family member, author, someone online, or someone you may have hired. Tell us about them!
Do you remember what a big deal Lance Armstrong was back-in-the-day? I'm not much of a cycling enthusiast (I don't follow it at all, actually), but I remember being at a family member's home and watching the Tour de France. Everyone was cheering for Lance, absolutely amazed at his athletic prowess and his ability to overcome cancer in such a remarkable way. But just a few years later, we learned the sad truth about the his illegal doping and chronic lying. As CNN reported, "The epic downfall of cycling's star, once an idolized icon of millions around the globe, stands out in the history of professional sports." It is such a sad story.
But...what if I told you that there was another story? One that ends with a true hero who scoffed at the title? One who never allowed the story of his heroism to be shared publicly while he was alive? Who didn't to seek to take advantage of his (legally earned) athletic prowess, but who put his life in danger many times so that others could live? (Plus, there was that one time when he helped avert a civil war in Italy...but that's a story for another time. Crazy, right!?)
This is the story of Italian cyclist Gino Bartali, who while very similar to Armstrong, was his opposite in many ways. He had his own set of flaws, but some of his actions have brilliantly outshone others.
Cycling was THE national sport of Italy in the 1930's and 40's. And Gino was one of the best. A very pious Catholic, some thought that perhaps it was his piety that helped his body win races time after time. He was such a monumental cyclist, that he won the Tour de France twice, the Giro d’Italia three times and was a four time national champion. This streak is even more remarkable when you consider that it was interrupted by World War II and Italian political maneuvering. He was the Tom Brady, the Michael Jordan, or the Michael Phelps of his day.
I have never seen a sports hero so adored. I remember times when Gino could not get out of a hotel even, such was the crush of fans waiting to see him. All the time there would be the roar of shouts which he knew so well, which was really music in his ears: ' Gi-no, Gi-no, Gi-no... ' During the Tour of Italy, Bartali always needed a box of wax balls to stop his ears when he was in bed. Without them there would have been no peace; For right through the night the row kept on, under the window of his room.
By the time WWII broke out, Gino was firmly entrenched as an athletic hero to the Italian people under Mussolini's rule. Mussolini loved him because his wins demonstrated that Italians belonged to the "master race". Because of this, he was afforded special status that he used to the Jewish underground's advantage.
When the underground first contacted Gino, they asked him to hide a friend's family in the basement of his apartment building in Florence. He agreed, and hid them for over a year until Italy was liberated in 1944. But this was only the first step.
A cyclist needs to train. He needs to travel far and wide, to get in his miles and prepare for long distance races. For the resistance, Gino made an exceptionally convenient courier. Plus, he was popular enough, that the government didn't dare harass him too much. He was known to travel as far as 400 kilometers (approx. 248 miles) for his training rides--convenient indeed!
Gino would take paper, photos and other documents to hidden printing presses so that fake documents could be forged for Jewish people in hiding. He then delivered the finished documents that enabled them to be smuggled out of Italy and into safely. The way he did this was brilliant-he rolled up the papers and carefully inserted them into the tubing of his bike frame.
Whenever he was pulled in for questioning, as he sometimes was, (the government suspected him, but was perplexed and unsure what to do about him) he would casually lean his bike up against a wall, with strict instructions that it not be touched or tampered with in anyway, as it would interfere with the delicate calibrations that would enable him to continue winning races for Italy. No one dared touch the bike. He was questioned and then released.
Thanks to the efforts of the Italian underground, which included the Catholic church, the award winning cyclist and hundreds of other unknown heros, approximately 80% of the Italian Jewish community and other refugees survived World War II. Because of his efforts, Gino was posthumously awarded the honorable title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial and education center in Jerusalem.
"When people were telling him, 'Gino, you're a hero', he would reply: 'No, no - I want to be remembered for my sporting achievements. Real heroes are others, those who have suffered in their soul, in their heart, in their spirit, in their mind, for their loved ones. Those are the real heroes. I'm just a cyclist.'"
P.S. There is a movie about Gino's exploits. I haven't seen it yet, so I can't recommend it, but I'm excited to see it this weekend and see if it's good!
Family Discussion Guide
- Some people use their fame for good and others don't. Why?
- Do you think it took courage for Gino to help the resistance? If you were asked to do something similar, what would you do?
- Why didn't Gino think he was a hero? Why did he want to be remembered for his cycling?
- Do you agree or disagree with Gino that you shouldn't talk about the good things you do?
When I was first introduced to the concept of "Children's Hour" by Montserrat of Cranial Hiccups, I immediately fell in love with the concept and had to try it. Though we vary in our success of doing this consistently (it gets harder as children get older and busier, or if I'm unorganized and late with dinner), our family loves this practice.
"Children's Hour" happens just after dinner is cleaned up and right before bedtime. This is where we all go into the living room as a family and just...be. Many times I will read from a wonderful read-aloud book while younger children play with legos or blocks and older kids are flopped on the couch. Sometimes children want to show us their "tricks" (somersaults, magic tricks, etc.), or play a song on the piano (whether they've had lessons or not!) We try to let them choose calmer activities and be in charge of that time.
It rarely lasts for an hour (sometimes it's only 10 minutes), but I love the concept of everyone being there, and being present. No electronics are allowed, we take time to settle down for the night, and do whatever the kids want to do. They get 100% of our attention.
Even though this takes effort and planning, when I think of the memories we are making, the feelings that come with this special time, and remember how I am trying to be deliberate with the time I am blessed to have with my children-I know it's a worthwhile thing to do. When we do calmer activities, there is an overwhelming sense of peace. Unity increases. We like each other better. We talk. We snuggle.
But I'll be honest with you. With so many boys in the family, sometimes it gets rowdy! (But that's ok, too.) Wrestling with Dad, Nerf gun wars, competitive board games, turning off all the lights and playing hide and go seek...I'll be honest, sometimes this ends with crying. But they have so much fun with each other (until the crying starts, of course) and the kids often refer to these times, "Remember when we all cornered Dad with our Nerf guns...". No matter how it turns out, I never regret making time for Children's Hour.
Here are a few tips for conducting your own Children's Hour:
-Organize your time, so you can do this without bumping back bedtime. Because, you know, bedtime is a parent's best friend.
- Know what you are having for dinner by lunch time. When I do this, the meat is thawed, I know I have all the ingredients and we end up eating on time instead of being late because of procrastination or last minute trips to the grocery store.
-Work out an afternoon schedule. Have a standard time when kids need to do homework, instead of whenever you or they remember.
-Limit outside activities. Football, piano lessons, gymnastics, scouts... these are all very good things! But for me, giving my kids a happy, unhurried, united family is the BEST thing I could ever give them. Family means time to connect and a place to belong, not just ships passing in the night. That means putting a time limit on all outside activities. Our kids might miss out on some things, but they will be receiving the best thing in return.
-Do it with whoever is there. It's wonderful when everyone can be there, but that's not always possible. Something is better than nothing.
-Make it fun. Don't do boring things! :)
-One last secret: Call it "Children's Hour" and let the kids pick what to do. When you call it "Story Time" or "Family Time" or something else, it can be hard for kids to get excited. "Children's Hour" makes them feel important- this is just for them. They also have a sense of control, since they get to help guide the evening's activities (within limits). One more benefit: it makes a great incentive for everyone to hurry and help clean up the kitchen and tidy other parts of the house!
I hope you will give this idea a try. Let your family get used to this new rhythm. It will take you back to older times. Times that were slower, times that were more intimate. It will create special moments for your family, where you will catch your children up in your arms and and say, as Longfellow did in his touching poem, "I have you fast in . . . my heart. And there will I keep you forever, Yes, forever and a day."
The Children's Hour
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the light is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.
I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.
From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending from the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.
A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!
They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.
They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!
I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!
Community Question: Do you do something similar to Children's Hour? Tell me about it!
Sometimes on Mondays, we just need a good laugh. So, here you go!
I've already written about Studio C and the good, clean family comedy that they provide. But before they were "Studio C" professionally, these great actors were in a college comedy troupe at the university I went to. Even then, they were good and funny.
Grab your kids and laugh, as you watch these two sketches and see that it really is much more cool to be good!
When my friend EmmyMom shared this article on Facebook, I instantly loved it. It is profound and passionate. I loved the message it carried and shared it with my kids that morning as they were eating breakfast. I knew I had found my hero for the week.
What I really love about it, is that a man sees a problem and also how he can help. He is not saying, "Someone should do something about that." HE is doing something about it- and not just talking. He also knows what life is really about- living a good and useful life, not getting fame and money.
Jabari Parker is the author of the article and he grew up in the dangerous South side of Chicago. He learned to duck, and then run whenever he heard gunshots. His family and faith are very important to him, and he places them at the center of his life. He is a very humble, down to earth, happy person.
He's just an all around great guy. When he was in high school, he attended a Bible study class regularly. In order to stay safe and out of trouble, he played basketball in his church gym-sometimes all night. (He got pretty good.)
But Chicago is getting worse- the high amount of gun violence especially, makes him sad. He wants kids growing up there to know that there are lots of paths in life, that they have options. The article is a sobering piece that helps the rest of us understand what it is like growing up there, the danger and the lack of vision that keeps kids in a cycle of poverty and violence. Please read it here.
His goal in life is to help the kids of Chicago. He learned very early in life how important it is to have an education, to believe that you can be whatever you want to be, and to be able to have good, clean fun with mentors that you can see, touch and learn from, not just some person far away in an ivory tower. So Jabari has decided that even though he has made it out of Chicago, he will follow the footsteps of his father and return, dedicating his life to those kids. He will not just count his blessing that he got out of there, but he will risk drive by shootings and other violence to teach kids and help them change Chicago from the inside out. To me, that is very heroic.
Oh, you might recognize Jabari a little bit better in this picture- as a well respected NBA player for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was the 2nd pick of the draft in 2014, , was featured on Sports Illustrated, played for Duke University...the list goes on and on. His professional achievements are spectacular (and you can read about them here and here), but it's his heart that that gains my respect the most. He's not a hero because he is in the NBA. But he is a hero because he really cares about people and is using his resources to help them. That is what heros do.
This quick video will help you get to know Jabari better.
David Fabricius, an internationally known speaker, once related a story at a seminar I attended that I will always remember. He grew up very poor in rural South Africa, and he noticed something fascinating when he boarded an airplane for the first time: seating was assigned according to reading material!
First class was for people who read leadership, personal improvement, and spiritual books. Business class was for people who read management books.
Economy was for people who read fashion magazines and chewed bubble gum!
Now, of course, he laughs and realizes that he was mistaken back then—but there is something fascinating about the literature we choose to read and what it makes of us. The higher the quality of our reading material:
Or, in other words, if we read material that is first class, then we become first class. No matter the genre!
Parents are leaders. We feel the same urgency as CEOs to know what works with human nature—and fast! Businesses can't thrive unless they deliberately use proven and successful methods. Families can be the same way.
Parents, like CEOs, seek to bring out the best in people, inspire others, and help people learn accountability. We set a tone and culture, and we try to maximize outcome. So you can understand why my interest immediately perks up when I see a book about leaders bringing their people to success. Though I have a long way to go, I want to be that kind of a leader. I want to be that kind of a mother.
With that in mind, I would like to share just a few of my favorite incognito “parenting” books–business and professional resources that have had a direct influence on my parenting. Even though I haven’t worked outside the home for over a decade, the timeless principles in these books help my life every single day.
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey: This is a classic that has been helping people for decades. My family needs self-mastery, teamwork, cooperation, and a host of other things just as much as any corporation. This book provides a great road map for it. These are proven principles on how to change myself, before I work within a family or other team.
If you are familiar with the principles in this book (like I was-my dad's a big fan), DON"T make the same mistake I did: I thought I didn't need to read it. Let me tell you, this book is chock full of amazing insight, it prompted me to look deep within myself, and no amount of Cliff's Notes, or casual conversations about it's principles can ever take it's place. If you can only read one book on this list, this is it!
Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute: This book brilliantly shows that the way I treat people and my honesty to myself about my actions can change a situation in an instant. When I follow the principles of this book, I recognize that by being honest with myself, I can solve most of the problems in my home. I LOVE this book. I love how it changes me and how it changes the way I view and treat others. This book is a "must read" as well.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown: Actively choosing what we want in our life is a privilege we often overlook. Too often we get distracted (Pinterest or Facebook, anyone?) from what is most important. This book helps me to “discern the trivial many from the vital few.” It challenges me to identify and act on the most important priorities. It also helps me take these priorities and do them singlemindedly and successfully while ignoring all the rest. It gives freedom and peace. Love this book!
The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz: If you are like me, you probably have a lot to do—maybe more than you think you can ever get done. This book shows that by using strategic rests, we are actually a lot more happy and healthy, and we get more done than if we were to burn the candle on both ends. My patience and my relationships with my kids are directly affected when I am tired or have been working too hard. This book helps me to not feel guilty about taking some time off.
Drive by Daniel Pink: How are people truly motivated? Rewards? Punishments? Or could it be something else entirely? Whether it’s a two year old or a teenager, every mom needs the answer to this question! And this book provides just that.
MichaelHyatt.com: Power of Moms founder April Perry first introduced me to Michael, and I love his website. Many of his blog posts and podcasts are about intentional leadership and personal development—right up a deliberate mother’s alley.
Surprisingly, an additional benefit that I hadn’t anticipated from reading these business classics is a better marriage! Have you ever gone on a date and not known what to talk about besides the kids? (Sad, but true sometimes.) My husband has also read these books for his career, and we have great conversations about the universal principles taught in them. These books have given us a great commonality.
We talk about leadership, his job, the people he works with, his goals and frustrations, and how these books relate to them or help solve problems. I feel very integrated into that part of his life and he feels listened to, strengthened, and supported. Then I share my perspective about our family within the framework of these principles. We are closer and more of a team both professionally and as parents. An extra bonus: these books are sure to help if you find yourself struggling through uncomfortable small talk at a company party!
Perhaps the next time you decide to snuggle with a blanket on the couch and read, instead of reaching for your regular book, try a business leadership book or another high quality unconventional parenting book instead.
Welcome to first class, baby!
Community Question: What other books would you add to this list? I love Simon Sinek's books as well!
Gotta love year book pictures!
Only the Seniors had color photos. The rest of us had a funky background.
When I was a sophmore in high school, I had an experience I have never forgotten. I can remember the exact spot it happened and what everything looked like. I was too traumatized to stand up for myself at the time, but I'll never forget the boy who stood up for me instead.
My high school was pretty small. We only had about 400 kids in it and most of us had grown up together. I LOVE my small town. It was a safe, perfect place to grow up in. But there was one hallway at the high school that I hated. It was a really short section that connected two other hallways, making a U shape. That short section couldn't be seen very well by the teachers, and that was where all the tough guys hung out.
I was pretty shy. I had my arms full of books as I hurried through the hallway to get to my next class. Then some guy (it's strange that I can't remember his face, when I can remember everything else), grabbed my rear end. Hard. I turned around, my eyes wide. I was stunned. My brain stopped working. I didn't know what to do. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, (or since, thankfully). I was embarrassed, traumatized, and speechless. Time stopped for a moment and then I rushed down the hallway, trying to get away.
Then I heard a big crash. The hallway became quiet. And for the first time, I saw how everyday people can become heros in a moment.
The guy who grabbed me had been thrown up against the lockers and was pinned there by a senior named Brady. The guy couldn't move. Brady was right in his face, holding on to him as he yelled, so everyone could hear, "Don't you EVER do that again!"
Brady was my hero.
He looked at me, trying to decide if I was ok. I couldn't say anything, not even a "thank you". My brain still wouldn't work. I turned around and walked away. Everyone went back to whatever it was that they were doing before and the noise started again.
I didn't know Brady very well. We lived on same street and shared a bus route, but we moved in different circles. Besides, he was a senior, while I was a sophomore. He didn't have any reason to help me, other than he saw something wrong and he decided to fix it. He was a voice for me when I couldn't find my own, and I will never forget what he did for me that day.
My experience really wasn't that terrible, compared to what too many others have gone through. But I think the louder we are, the more action we take, the more we hold people accountable for their actions--we decrease the chance of abuse of any kind.
I hope my boys will be like Brady. I hope my daughter will be like him, too. And myself. I hope we will always find our voices when something wrong happens--to anyone. I hope we won't be disappointed if people don't say thank you, but that we will understand that they will find their voice eventually. Thanks, Brady. The world needs more heros like you.
Family Discussion Guide
- Sometimes it's hard for people to stand up for themselves. Why?
- Have you seen people bullied or mistreated?
-How can you help?
- How can you and your friends use positive peer pressure to reach out to those who are mistreated or to convince those who are mean to stop?
Community Question: Do you have a hero from school?
You guys all know Mike Rowe. He's a really great, down to earth guy. He's pretty wise as well, and I think the video below, made for Prager University, is a valuable counter response to popular "follow your passion" theories.
We've all seen people who have tried follow their passion, but have fallen flat on their face. It's so sad and painful to watch. To add even more insult to injury, their financial future is often jeopardized because of their experiment. They are sad and discouraged because they failed, and they are also extremely stressed out because of their finances. It's such a demoralizing and hard place to be.
What are parents and teachers to do? How do we guide our youth? We want them to realize their dreams, but we also want them based in reality. In my post Sentence Your Kids to 10,000 hours and They'll Be Happy, I laid out my philosophy about preparing our children for their future in the workforce. It has a Venn Diagram that I think is super valuable in this discussion.
In this video, Mike focuses on the green part of the diagram that many people forget as they try to follow their passion: What does the world need or want? You can't make any money if no one wants what you are selling. Or, maybe you don't have a grand passion. In that case, fill the world's needs that no one else is. I don't think you don't need to love every job that you do. Maybe you just have to put food on the table, or work two jobs to get through college. Hard work that is effective and in the right direction is the secret to success. And sometimes, that's all that matters.
For example: the secretary at my dentist's office is amazing. She makes our visits so much nicer, she handles our paperwork and payments smoothly and there are never any hiccups. My life is better because of her. What about the people who come pick up your garbage? The landscapers who keep our parks and other public areas beautiful and well maintained? What about those gas station attendants who work late hours for those of us who are traveling at night and need a bathroom and snacks to keep us awake? What about construction workers and other tradesmen who build our homes and make sure they function correctly? These people may or may not be passionate about their work- I don't know. But...think about a world without these people. Life would get really hard, really fast. I am so grateful for people who do jobs that I am not personally passionate about, and that sometimes don't get the respect that they deserve.
Come listen to what Mike has to say about it to new high school graduates:
Family Discussion Guide
-What jobs does no one like to do?
-Can you learn to like anything, and be happy anywhere?
-Could our world still function if everyone had high level jobs? CEO, lawyer, doctor, ect?
-How do you "bring your passion with you?"
-What are you passionate about? What is the need for it in the world? Would it make a better career or hobby?
Have you ever been suckered? Manipulated? Felt like you were pushed into a corner?
One time, I was suckered into buying 3 bottles of green all purpose cleaner--at around $20 each! The poverty stricken college-student-sales-person licked the spray bottle hose to verify that is was non-toxic and harmless to kids. Then she cleaned a part of my car, a piece of my carpet and claimed it would clean anything, any time, anywhere. Then she told me her wretchedly sad childhood story and how this sales job would pay for college and help her pull herself up and better her circumstances--but only if people were willing to buy cleaner from her.
I didn't need it, I didn't want it. And I didn't have much money to spare. But what is a kindhearted person to do?
Another time, back when I was single, a guy I just met asked me out. He was cute, so I said yes. We went out, but eventually I just got a really uncomfortable feeling around him. I put the feeling off and put it off again. Finally I asked him to take me home.
All's well that ends well, but as I look back, I can see that I was in a pretty dangerous situation. But even still--I felt really awful about asking him to take me home. Why? That's stupid! But unfortunately, that is how we are wired sometimes. We naturally don't want to rock the boat. We don't want to cause problems, and we want people to like us. But sometimes that means doing things aren't in our best interest, violate our beliefs or are just plain foolish and dumb.
I want my kids to learn to make logical decisions that are made by principle and not emotion, to stay true to their values, and not be coerced into doing something they don't feel good about. I want them to feel perfectly comfortable standing alone and/or going contrary to everyone else if they feel it is right.
Enter the BS Guys (standing for Behavioral Science). These guys are awesome. Backed by research, but easy to understand, be sure to show this (and their other videos) to your kids! They show in an entertaining way how we are manipulated and what to do to avoid it. Targeted at teens, these are super fun to watch. If we recognize and understand the tactics that are being used in the world around us (consciously or unconsciously) we can be in control of the situation instead. And we don't have to feel dumb or mean.
That is empowering.
P.S. My favorite part of this video is when a girl keeps her promise and slaps a boy upside the head because he was cheating. She was great!
Family Discussion Guide
-What is the difference between manipulation and persuasion?
-What are the four ways we are manipulated? The men in the video use pretty big words. Can you give us examples?
-What can you do to avoid manipulation?
-Why is it important to not be manipulated?
-Have you ever felt pressured to do something you didn't want to do?
-How can you help hold people accountable for what they are doing? (Without hitting them!)
-Have you caught yourself trying to manipulate someone else? What was your motivation?
*VitalSmarts, L.C., www.vitalsmarts.com. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission.
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