Setting the example

Bird Droppings March 8, 2010
Setting the example

I received an email many months and many nights ago from a friend in Pa., referring to comments I had made, she borrowed from scripture and how a house should be built upon a solid base. She was talking about how we get children to learn to want to learn. Yesterday I wrote after discussing in a few blog excerpts on facebook about setting an example as a teacher. How this is one of the most critical things as an educator we can do.

“Education commences at the mother’s knee, and every word spoken within hearsay of little children tends toward the formation of character.” Hosea Ballou

As I think back to when I was a child not that many years ago my wife says. We were read to and we were encouraged to read. When I started school I was essentially reading. I wonder as I work with high school students who struggle with reading if their parents ever even opened a book up with them or near them for that matter.

“Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and approximate to the characters we most admire.” Christian Nevell Bovee

“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other” Edmund Burke

“Children learn what they live”, across the room on my wall from my desk is the poster from Dr. Dorothy Laura Nolte and what amazes me is every once in a while a student is drawn to it and reads through. Several students have situated themselves under my poster during class since I do not have assigned seats yet they sit in the same spot every day and periodically will ask what is this word or that word as they look up at my 1972 black light poster I have carried with me teaching in many settings and many students.

“You have to set the tone and the pace; define objectives and strategies, and demonstrate through personal example what you expect from others.” Stanley C. Gault

“It is easier to exemplify values than teach them.” Theodore M. Hesburgh

I recall a situation several years back, where a family, dad and both sons were jailed at the same time. Seems this same family was where the oldest son at eleven would drive dad to the liquor store because he was not able to drive. Examples works both ways, today that oldest son is in prison for twenty years. When I think back to that same child as a student nearly eight years ago sitting in my class wanting me to read Dylan Thomas again and then borrowing my book, I wonder if I could I have done a bit more as a teacher. On Friday before I left school I had a visit from an old student. He graduated nearly five years ago and has worked one time since then. He had a good job and lost it according to his mother a different story then what he told. He got me thinking as to what his education could have done for him differently. He had been educated through a series of small classes mainly for behavior problem children and alternative settings. As I look back he was often educated in an environment that was safest for others and not necessarily the best for him. I started piecing together kids I still have contact with that are not able to hold a job or cannot get a job for one reason or another. Some are medical others psychological and often as in his situation perhaps people are afraid to hire him.

“Example is a bright looking-glass, universal and for all shapes to look into.” Michel Eyquem De Montaigne

“The first great gift we can bestow on others is a good example.” Thomas Morell

I was fortunate growing up being in the family that I did. Examples were strong and powerful motivators and even today my children are motivated by their grandparents and all that they did in their lives. Maybe I was spoiled by the examples around me and I have always felt you can accomplish anything if you try and if you have the support and cooperation of family and fiends.

“I’ve always led by example and I’m not that vocal.” Scottie Pippen

Pippen is a quiet and essential player that played on six NBA championship teams with the Chicago Bulls. Scottie Pippin was an integral part of a team that did include Michael Jordan. I watched many basketball games in those days including a record winning season that literally seemed as if the Bulls could not lose. Pippins was that one with the key hand off or assist as Jordan scored on more than one occasion. My youngest son and I often talk about that team and the unbelievable stats that they accumulated during their reign. But it was Scottie Pippins example that also held a team of characters and some would say egos together.

“Example is leadership.” Albert Schweitzer

“Be careful how you live; you will be the only Bible some people ever read.” William J. Toms

I think back to memorable teachers and each set an example in their lives and how they interacted with students. Looking at my son’s teachers, the great ones example was a key teaching tool. Parents who have inadvertently succeeded in raising children often it is not a special formula but their example that lead their children along the pathway.

“A leader is a model whether he wants to be or not. He doesn’t have to tell the group to follow his example. In fact, he can even tell them not to follow his example, but they will.” Lewis Orens, The Pine Tree Web

As I was researching this morning I found a site Home School World and so often as a public school teacher home schooling will come up, as parents makes choices as to how to educate there children. Sadly over a million children are home schooled in the United States and most are due to religious or religious based biases and pressures. In a recent article a mother complained about home schooling material as she was homeschooling her daughter who was many grade levels ahead of her peers entering college at fifteen. At ten this child questioned the science book her mother had received from a major home school press where evolution was left out of the book and a ten year old complained the book was lying. Is there a place for home schooling I am sure for some it may be best. The following is in reference to public schools.

“Do responsible parents want their children to emulate the behavior of the teachers and children there? Disorder, ignorance, misbehavior, disrespect for parents and family, and worse are the norms in such schools, so they obviously do not provide the examples we want for our children.” Dr. Arthur Robinson, Children learn by example, 1998

Dr. Robinson is the founder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine where he and associates work on several areas of medical research and home schooling curriculum and civil defense issues. Is example a powerful tool, both ways, I myself do not agree with Dr. Robinsons ideas on public school for there are equally as many and more good examples that many children would not have at home. I teach in a school recently recognized for achievement academically and in graduation rate as one of the top in the state. Public school can be successful. A dear friend is a principal at one of the roughest school in Georgia or I should say was one of roughest schools. His efforts earned him Principal of the year in Georgia and every year his school has made leaps and bounds academically. This is in a school with an over seventy percent transient population.
One aspect of learning and schooling, if done at home is that the only example is their parents, and who judges them. Perhaps if we could certify parents as teachers and here are kids being taught by parents who themselves are not very good teachers. I look forward to a good day where my students are learning and interacting in an appropriate manner. In the midst of writing I had to take a break my Westie was barking to go out and I am the night shift on dog taking out so at four in the morning standing on my back porch facing the southeast a big smile of a moon. Today will be a good day and just thinking out loud that means learning is working and or I am setting a decent example for my students. That might be asking a lot. As always please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s