As of this writing, in mid-2018, there are six thriving Education for Life Schools: in Palo Alto and Nevada City, California; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Ljubljana, Slovenia; and Assisi, Italy.
(You can find brief descriptions of the schools on this page: http://edforlife.org/about/#schools.)
The appellation “Living Wisdom School” refers to schools that follow the Education for Life philosophy, and that were founded under the auspices of Ananda Sangha. (The first school was started at Ananda Village in 1972.)
Thanks to the success of these schools, the good news about this inspiring new broad-spectrum approach to academic excellence has spread to organizations that have started or plan to start their own schools that will be based on the Education for Life philosophy and methods, but that will not be formally associated with Ananda. These schools can be generally referred to as “Education for Life Schools” but are not, strictly speaking, Living Wisdom Schools. At this time we expect at least three new schools will be started in the coming year (2018-19).
Because this book is based on the experience of the original schools, the terms “Living Wisdom School” and “LWS” are used throughout.
Many schools with a heavy academic focus, perhaps aware of the growing demand among parents for a more balanced education, are now claiming to offer a blend of academics and joy. We sincerely hope these claims are true! But ultimately we feel that parents should make their own comparisons. Request a tour of the schools. Speak with the teachers. Above all, observe the children. Then visit a Living Wisdom School and choose for yourselves. We’ve been practicing the Education for Life methods for a long time!
A second factor to consider in choosing a school is how the teachers are trained. The Living Wisdom Schools are extremely selective in the teachers they hire. Teacher training is long and rigorous. Impressive academic credentials alone are not sufficient; they must be accompanied by highly developed skills in understanding all aspects of the child—body, heart, will, mind, and soul—and a high degree of expertise in guiding each child to take the next, natural step in the unfolding of their individual success and happiness.
New teachers spend a year of internship with another teacher, absorbing the culture, language, and methodology. They also take a three-month intensive course in yoga that includes instruction in Hatha Yoga and basic meditation techniques.
Last, but far from least, every teacher in the Living Wisdom Schools is expected to have a lifelong commitment to a personal spiritual practice, whatever their religious affiliation. This is an extremely important requirement, as it enables the teachers to understand that happiness is an internal quality, that it is the indispensable foundation for success in school and life, and that its source is Spirit.
Prayer and meditation help the teachers form a soul bond with each child. By offering themselves daily to the highest source of love, wisdom, and joy, the teachers are able to serve as channels for those qualities to help the children, and to help them form their own inner connection with that source.
By George Beinhorn, Palo Alto Living Wisdom School web content manager
In the late 1980s, I wrote a short article about an experiment by the elementary school children at the original Living Wisdom School near Nevada City, California.
Here is the complete thirty-year-old article. I present it with two thoughts in mind: as an example of how the LWS teachers encourage children’s expansive feelings, and as a reminder that love is the ultimate key to helping children thrive, both personally and at school.
The Love Plant
The primary school children of Living Wisdom School, age five through eight, have scientifically investigated the power of love.
In an experiment suggested to them by their teacher, Peter Kabir MacDow, the children planted five seeds in each of four pots.
In one pot, the “Dark Plant” received only water and was kept in a closet with no exposure to sunlight.
In a second pot, the “Too Bad Plant” received sunlight and water, but no extra soil nutrients or other attention.
A third, the “Everything But Love Plant,” got sunlight, water, and soil nutrients—the normal care a good gardener would give it.
The Love Plant got the same care as the Everything But Plant, plus the added ingredient of love.
It’s 9:30 in the morning. The children are working quietly at their desks. Peter asks them to bring the four plants to an open area on the rug. The children respond eagerly, smiling as they gather in a circle. It’s obvious that this is something they’ve been looking forward to.
First the plants are watered, then the Dark Plant is returned to the closet, and the Too Bad Plant is taken back to the window sill. The Everything But Love Plant is fussed over amid a discussion of the nutrients a plant needs to grow.
Peter: We’re going to focus our attention on the Love Plant now. This is the one we want to give our attention to. I’d like someone to explain what this experiment is all about—someone who’s been centered this morning. Tara, would you explain what the experiment is?
Tara: It’s to watch the plants grow and see what they do when you put them in different places, like put them in the sun, and put them in different kinds of soil, and put them in the dark.
Peter: None of us can really grow without all those things—the water and the sun and the air and the good soil—and something special is there, too.
(Several children begin talking at once.)
Peter: Let’s sit up, please. Sit up nice and straight. Now look at the plants. Look at them closely. You can see how well they’ve done. We’ve started these plants from seeds, and they’ve depended on us to take care of them and help them grow. Now, the plants that we gave a little bit to, they grew a little bit. The plants that we’ve given a lot to, they’ve grown a lot, they’ve grown a lot more than the rest of them. What we give is what has helped this plant; and we’ve been giving our love, which is one of the most important things that it could have. So we want to give it some more right now.
We can start by sitting up. Close your eyes. Inside of your mind, try to see the plant. Do this: Try to see the plant inside—it’s green, and it’s leafy.
As we sing, we’re going to try to feel that it’s pulling the plant up, making it great and big. All the leaves are spreading out and branching out and getting big. The blossoms are starting to come out on the plant, and the flowers.
(The children sing to the plant while projecting loving feelings toward it.)
The flowers this plant has are its gift to us. We give it love, and it gives us its beauty. Ready? Have the plant in your mind. As we sing, we can feel that we’re bringing it up. We can even bring our hands over it. Here we go, just bringing our energy up as we sing.
(The children sing again, then Peter leads them in a prayer. The quality in their voices is startling—it’s as if they are praying with one voice—vibrant, rich, enthusiastic. No voice wanders or lags; the children’s full attention is on what they’re doing.)
Peter (followed responsively by the children): Bless this plant. Fill it with Your love. Help it to grow strong. And beautiful.
The Love-Plant Model for School Success
In education, the worst mistakes generally begin with a tiny brain hiccup. Instead of nourishing the Love Plant in children’s hearts, we ignore its needs—we put it in the dark, in a feverish obsession with test scores and grades. We burn its joyful fronds with a deadly-boring standardized curriculum. Or we ignore the quiet instinct of our hearts that is telling us what the individual children in the class need in order to thrive.
There’s a current that runs through the Living Wisdom Schools. It’s a constant theme, that the right thing, in school and life, is to engage with love, and never limit the classroom instruction to force-feeding these young plants with barren ideas. The inborn excitement of math or science or history or English, beautifully taught by teachers who are free to be creative and independent and strong, infects the kids with a love and enthusiasm for learning that empowers them to blossom.
Our students do extremely well when they enter the San Francisco Bay Area’s most academically challenging public and private high schools. Yet parents who inquire about our school are often skeptical.
They worry that their kids will fall behind academically, because we spend so much time cultivating their hearts.
Or they raise reasonable objections.
Surely we’re successful because our students come from smart, successful families. Surely we accept only the top students. Surely our kids do well because of our fabulous nine-to-one student-teacher ratio. Surely our system, which spends so much time on “soft skills,” won’t help the kids compete when they enter the harsh, dog-eat-dog world of high school.
It’s true that many of our kids have highly educated parents. It’s true that our student-teacher ratio is as low as six to one in middle-school math, when the middle school teacher and two adult math aides are present in the classroom. But the truth is, we also accept students who are academically average.
Our successes are not due to those external factors; they are the natural outcome of an approach to working with children that takes account of each child’s hopes and dreams.
The high-pressure K-8 academic prep schools in the area don’t evoke our envy. To put it kindly, their results are no better than ours, because our philosophy is rooted in the Love Plant approach. A saying at our school is “Kids who are taught with love, love to learn.”
Our philosophy is based on the idea that life has meaning, that life’s meaning is reflected in school, and that the principles that work in life—at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, on sports teams, in the military, and at Google and other top corporations—are the same principles that help children thrive from kindergarten through college and beyond. Following these principles gives children two things that all people have craved since the dawn of time: continually increasing happiness, and regular, ongoing experiences of success.
If there’s a single core truth that we’ve learned in the forty-five-year history of the Living Wisdom Schools, it’s that, at school and in life, expansive attitudes of love, kindness, compassion, and joy improve performance, while negative, contractive attitudes and feelings destroy happiness and impede success.
In school, in sports, and in the Navy, respect for the uniqueness of the individual opens portals to breathtaking success.
Nobody believes Bill Aris.
People ask Bill, over and over, how his Fayetteville-Manlius High School (NY) girls’ cross country teams have managed to win the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) an amazing ten times. (NXN, where the nation’s forty best teams compete, is the de facto national high school cross country championship.)
Bill graciously shares his methods. He patiently explains how he trains his runners. And the other coaches suspect he’s signifyin’, as they say in the Ozark mountains.
Surely he’s pulling their legs. At the very least, he’s got to be holding something back.
Coaches fall off their chairs when Bill explains that he spends relatively little time designing his runners’ workouts.
“I spend 80 percent of my time on psychological and emotional considerations of each kid,” Aris says. “I put 20 percent of my time into designing the training. I spend most of my time thinking about and trying to get to the heart and soul of each kid, to both inspire them and to understand them. I’m always trying to figure out what keys unlock what doors to get them to maximize their potential.”
Other coaches believe there’s no way Aris can produce national champions, year after year, without huge numbers of kids trying out for the team, and without recruiting.
In fact, Fayetteville-Manlius High School has 1,500-2,000 students, yet just 25 runners turn out each fall for cross country. And Aris doesn’t need to recruit, because his methods turn talented kids into champions.
Aris’s boys’ teams won NXN in 2014 and 2017. They’ve placed second several times, plus a third and fourth. To put this in perspective, it’s a tremendous achievement just to be among the forty teams invited to race at NXN. Consistently scoring in the top five puts the F-M boys in the absolute stratosphere of high school cross country.
At the library recently, I picked up a wonderful book. At first glance, It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy would seem to have little to do with training high school runners. Yet Bill Aris and former U.S. Navy Captain D. Michael Abrashoff have a lot in common. They’re both renegade thinkers, in professions where the safest path to career advancement is to keep one’s head down and do things the way they’ve always been done.
Abrashoff describes what happened when the Navy gave him command of a deeply troubled ship with bottom-scraping efficiency ratings.
In the Navy, officers are expected to either get ahead or get out. If they aren’t being regularly promoted, they risk being seen as damaged goods—losers—and shunted off to posts where they can’t harm other officers’ careers.
It’s a system that breeds a paranoid management style, where the highest priority is to avoid looking bad. It encourages officers to micromanage their subordinates, to get results that will look good on their resumes.
Unfortunately, it’s an approach that ultimately produces mediocre results and has a terrible effect on a ship’s morale. When Abrashoff took over Benfold, most of the crew members told him they couldn’t wait to leave the ship and get out of the Navy.
What Abrashoff did was amazing. As I read the book, I laughed, smiled, and occasionally wiped a tear. Abrashoff decided to apply the lessons he had learned during a two-year stint as an aide to Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. He would put the crew’s welfare first—just as Bill Aris does with his runners.
Abrashoff spoke personally with every one of Benfold’s 310 crew members, asking them about their backgrounds, their life goals, what they hoped to get out of their time in the Navy, and what they felt was wrong with the Navy’s way of doing things.
Above all, he invited their suggestions for improving procedures in their own departments. And he implemented them, even if it meant bending the Navy’s rules.
Within six months, Benfold was winning at-sea exercises against ships with much stronger ratings.
How did Abrashoff turn Benfold around? By adopting a simple guiding principle.
“I decided that on just about everything I did, my standard should be simply whether or not it felt right. You can never go wrong if you do ‘the right thing.’ ….
“If it feels right, smells right, tastes right, it’s almost surely the right thing—and you will be on the right track.
“If that doesn’t sound very profound or sophisticated, in the Navy, in business, and in life, it really is as simple as that.”
Let’s add: “In sports training, and in the classroom.”
We know when we’re doing the right thing in sports, and when we’re truly reaching the children in the classroom and helping them improve at their level—because it feels right. And we know, just as clearly, when we’re screwing up—ignoring the child’s reality in a headlong pursuit of test scores—because it feels subtly wrong.
It’s simple. Do the right thing as an athlete and your training will go well and you’ll enjoy it. Do the right thing for every child at school—get to know each student and work with their individual differences—and you’ll find them becoming amazingly enthusiastic and engaged, and loving it, because they feel respected.
Few believed that Abrashoff’s expansive leadership style would work—until Benfold began garnering a reputation as “the best damn ship in the Navy.”
Assigned to the Persian Gulf during the second Gulf War, Benfold became the go-to ship whenever commanders needed things done fast and correctly. When other captains wanted to improve their ships’ performance, they visited Benfold and talked with Abrashoff and his crew.
It’s an incredibly inspiring story. And the principles behind Benfold’s success are exactly the same as those that have brought the girls’ teams at Fayetteville-Manlius ten national championships.
In my working life, I occasionally help Donovan R. Greene, Ph.D., a highly regarded industrial psychologist. Companies hire Don to identify executive candidates who can strengthen their cultures and amplify their success. A habit that many of the best candidates share is “managing by walking around” (MBWA).
That’s what Mike Abrashoff did, and what Bill Aris does. Abrashoff spent countless hours visiting each of Benfold’s departments, learning its functions and where they fit within the ship’s overall operations. He met with each crew member and invited their thoughts on how they could do their jobs better. And he empowered them to make changes. He respected them and tapped their creativity, knowledge, and enthusiasm. Morale soared, and success came quickly.
It was uncannily similar to how Bill Aris guides his high school cross country teams.
Coaches don’t believe Bill because he doesn’t tell them what they want to hear.
They want to hear: “I get results by hard-nosed methods. I work my kids’ tails off, and I’m not above recruiting so long as I don’t get caught. We do huge mileage in summer, and I won’t tell you about our speedwork, because that would be revealing too much. But it’s all in the numbers.”
Does that sound like schools today? The obsession with numbers. The “studying to the test.” The government-imposed standard curriculum that leaves one-third of the kids bored out of their minds, another third unable to keep up, and only one-third challenged at their level.
When modern sports scientists from America and Europe travel to Africa to study the world-leading Kenyan elite runners, they bring along their little measuring sticks. They measure the Kenyans’ leg lengths, muscle elasticity, and calf and thigh dimensions. They weigh and analyze what they eat—how much carbohydrate, fat, and protein. They study how many miles they run, and how hard. And they write it all down in a little notebook full of numbers.
Few of them ask the Kenyans about their hopes and dreams. Yet if you invite the Kenyans to talk about what sets them apart from their American and European counterparts, they never mention numbers. They talk about qualities of the heart—not heart volume and such-like science, but the heart’s feelings.
They explain that they run based on inner feeling—they take joy in running together, and if their bodies don’t feel up to running hard on a particular day, they’re perfectly willing to pack it up and go home; whereas an American runner would be much more likely to force himself through the workout, haunted by a need to “make the numbers.”
The Kenyans know that their bodies will tell them when it’s okay to run hard, and when it’s best to knock off. They’ve long since learned to do the right thing.
They talk about how the U.S. runners are so serious about their training, how obsessed they are with numbers and technology, and how it’s all geared toward some feverishly imagined far-off future result. Meanwhile, the Kenyans are intent on maximizing the joys of today.
Captain Abrashoff did a simple thing on Benfold—he created a happy ship. He gave his crew the freedom to enjoy doing their jobs well. Other ships’ officers and crew members were soon seeking excuses to visit Benfold, for the experience of being infected and inspired by its upbeat mood.
That’s the secret of Bill Aris’s success, and it isn’t complicated. Aris creates happy teams. How? By getting to know his runners and helping them realize their dreams. That kind of caring creates loyalty, enthusiasm, and success—on a Navy missile destroyer, a cross country course, and in the classroom.
School administrators and politicians should take a lesson from Aris and Abrashoff. Instead of cramming kids into a lockstep curriculum, thereby demotivating all but the average few, they could empower teachers to institute an individualized curriculum that would take the measure of each kid’s hopes and dreams.
When Abrashoff left Benfold, he studied surveys conducted by the Navy to discover why people weren’t re-enlisting. Surprisingly, low pay was far down the scale, in fifth place.
“The top reason was not being treated with respect or dignity; second was being prevented from making an impact on the organization; third, not being listened to; and fourth, not being rewarded with more responsibility.”
Abrashoff worked tirelessly to reverse these trends. He would not tolerate attitudes in his officers that might risk creating a bossy, feudal culture that would spread poisonous feelings of resentment throughout the ship.
Every crew member’s contributions were to be considered important, and they were to be made aware of their value to the ship.
By treating his crew as if they mattered, and giving them freedom to shine, Abrashoff built the best damn ship in the Navy—just as Aris has built the nation’s best high school cross country program.
Six months after Abrashoff’s departure, Benfold earned the highest gradein the history of the Pacific Fleet on the Navy’s Combat Systems Readiness Review.
Abrashoff tells story after story of how he transformed the culture of his ship, one detail at a time. It’s a deeply moving account. And ultimately the “method” can be boiled down to a simple principle: the best approach to organizational change and individual excellence is the one that creates the greatest fulfillment and happiness for the individual.
“Every year, I look at every kid in our group,” Aris said of his approach to training high school runners. “Number one, I try to find out what’s in their mind and in their hearts. How high is up, in other words. From there I build a training program around that.”
Speaking of the unique culture that Aris has built, award-winning running journalist Marc Bloom says:
“In all my 40-plus years (of being involved with high school cross country), I don’t think I’ve seen anything this extraordinary, at least on the high school level…. If you look at professionals it’s like looking at the Kenyans and the Ethiopians. On the high school level, F-M is so far better than anyone else.
“You say how do they do it?” Bloom added. “You can look at the physiological aspect and the running, but there is also a cultural foundation to it. It’s a different society. It’s a different attitude.”
It’s a culture that engenders good feelings within each runner and within the team. Aris persuades his runners to tap the joy of training for something larger than themselves. And it all sounds eerily like the culture at Living Wisdom School.
“When our kids train or race, they do so for each other rather than competing against each other. When one releases themselves from the limiting constraints of individual achievement alone, new worlds open up in terms of group AND individual potential and its fulfillment…. Each is capable of standing on their own, but when working together so much more is accomplished both for the group and individual. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts basically, nothing new here.”
Why aren’t people more receptive to these radical but exhaustively proven ideas? Why are so few listening—in school, in sports, and in business and the military?
Mark Allen, six-time winner of the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, may have the answer.
Before he began racing triathlons, Allen was a hard-charging All-American swimmer at UC San Diego. Swimmers do intensive interval workouts, and when Allen became a triathlete he trained full-out all the time, whether running, riding, or swimming. Yet year after year he fell just short of winning the Ironman.
Then Allen met coach Phil Maffetone, who had him do several months of easy aerobic training at the start of the season, followed by six weeks of very hard work. Maffetone understood Allen’s individual needs and adapted his training accordingly. That’s when the string of Ironman victories began.
In an interview with Allen, Tim Noakes, MD, author of the authoritative Lore of Running, asked him for his thoughts on why more triathletes hadn’t adopted the methods that had brought him so much success.
“Allen answered that many athletes are too ego-driven. They can’t wait to perform well and will not accept anyone else’s ideas.”
Why are our public schools and our academically obsessed private schools not adopting the principles that work so well in sports and in the Navy, and that have created happiness and success for so many students at Living Wisdom School, because they help each child learn more efficiently than the failed lockstep Core Curriculum, and the equally disastrous No Child Left Behind?
The answer is that politicians and school administrators are too heavily invested in their own ideas and obsessed with numbers—even when the numbers lie.
Bill Aris’s methods aren’t what the politicians and administrators want to hear. And that’s too bad, because there’s solid scientific evidence that the heart and brain can work harder with less strain in the presence of happy feelings. In the classroom, research shows that the brain becomes a more efficient learning machine in the presence of harmonious, expansive feelings—as opposed to the stress and emotional toll of a needlessly competitive, test-focused atmosphere.
Teachers and coaches who support the individual child, intent on helping them become happy members of a happy team, aren’t just wasting the kids’ time. They’re amplifying the children’s ability to learn, empowering these young learners by tapping the power of positive feelings to make each child’s brain a champion.
Imagine if you were a teacher, and there was a child in your classroom who clearly needed special attention and loving help—would you blithely ignore the child’s needs, prioritizing test preparation and grades? As parents and as a society, would we set up our entire school system so that teachers were forced to ignore that child’s unique circumstances?
Mass education is “dead-ucation.” Teachers who know how to elicit the individual child’s enthusiasm for learning, by giving them daily experiences of success at their own level, are able to educate them far more effectively than teachers who are required by government decree to cram a barely digestible load of facts into the students’ overworked and resisting brains.
(Adapted from The Joyful Athlete: The Wisdom of the Heart in Exercise & Sports Training, by LWS web content manager George Beinhorn. www.joyfulathlete.com)
Adapted from The Joyful Athlete: the Wisdom of the Heart in Exercise & Sports Training, by Palo Alto Living Wisdom School web content manager George Beinhorn.
 “The Secret to F-M’s Success: There Is No Secret,” Tom Leo and Donnie Webb, Syracuse.com, December 10, 2010. http://bit.ly/2JT3vnn.
If teachers were allowed to be coaches, our schools would rapidly become inspiring centers of learning, populated by happy students and their happy teachers.
In Tony Holler’s thirty-eight years as a teacher, he’s seen the best and worst of public education.
Tony teaches honors chemistry at Plainfield North High School, in the greater Chicago area. Tony laments the way teachers today are hamstrung by the mandate for a core curriculum, and by national policies such as “No Child Left Behind” that force them to give their students a standardized, lock-step education that ignores the students’ individual needs.
Tony says, “Schools force-feed the curriculum to students every single day. The political ‘war on education’ has forced schools into an all-consuming quest for higher ACT and SAT scores, disregarding the toll it takes on the students.
“I work at an excellent school. My principal asked the teachers what our school was doing well. My answer: ‘The trains run on time.’
“This was not the answer my principal expected. I would give my school an A-plus for organization and discipline. It’s the education that bothers me…. My own best teachers were artists. They didn’t paint by the numbers.”
Tony’s views on education are biting, but they are fueled by a desire to see young people thrive and be successful and happy, and a distaste for the obstacles that politically motivated policies place in their way.
For Tony, the flipside is that he is intimately familiar with a side of public schools where happy, motivated students learn to perform at high levels of excellence every single day.
The methods used on that side of the school campus look remarkably like the Education for Life approach of the Living Wisdom Schools. The problem is, you’ll rarely find these extremely successful, comprehensively proven methods practiced in the classroom.
Besides teaching honors chemistry, Tony coaches track and field. In sports, unlike academics as taught today, what matters isn’t test scores but solid results. On the football field, there are no test scores to distract attention from the scoreboard. Coaches must either adopt methods that bring out the best in every kid, or risk being fired.
Tony believes that if teachers were allowed to adopt coaching methods, it would transform our public schools overnight into vibrant centers of learning, populated by motivated, happy students.
Those methods are on display every single day, right under the noses of the school administrators and government policy makers—yet nobody is paying attention.
When Tony coached freshman football from 2010 to 2015, his teams went 49-4, averaging 44-plus points per game. When he taught at Harrisburg (Illinois) High School, his track teams won the state title in the 4×100 a remarkable four times. In 2018, his Plainfield North High track team won the 4×100 title in an Illinois state record time of 41.29. An hour later, a 15-year-old PNHS sprinter ran a state record in the 100 (10.31). The team won four gold medals and placed third, close behind two much larger track powerhouse schools.
Tony knows what it takes to nurture winners on the track and in the classroom. What follows is Tony’s overview of the principles that earned him election to the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and that he believes should be adopted in school classrooms everywhere.
Sports are not graduation requirements. Kids play sports because they are challenging and fun. Advanced Placement courses should similarly “sell” themselves, and not be forced upon all of the students by government decree.
Coaches don’t spend 80 percent of their time with the 20 percent of kids who can’t do the work. Students should be helped to succeed at their own level. A one-size-fits-all definition of success is ridiculous, and is bound to fail.
Coaches aren’t told how to coach. Schools should give teachers the freedom to tailor the curriculum to the needs of the individual student.
Sports programs are promoted. Kids play sports because they hear rumors about the great team culture on a football, basketball, baseball, or track team. Teachers should be allowed to make their courses exciting and attractive to the students—whatever it takes.
You play to win the game. Too many schools are diploma mills. Schools should set themselves no lesser goal than to help every single student experience the greatest possible success at their own, individual level of ability.
All men are not created equal. Every student is talented, but not in the same way as other students. The obvious fact of individual differences should be given primary consideration in the classroom.
Coaches don’t give grades. Grades are meaningful only as they measure each student’s progress. Grades should not be held up as the goal, or used as a motivator—or, worse, as a punishment.
Failure is not an option. Great coaches make sure that every player has daily experiences of success. This is the way to create excitement and enthusiasm for learning. How to give each student daily success experiences? By challenging them at their own level.
Coaches are leaders, not bosses. Rigid, authoritarian teachers are obsolete. Teachers must have the flexibility, skills, and experience to make learning exciting and to introduce every student to the thrill of overcoming challenges, again and again, every day.
Coaches don’t need advanced degrees. The value of an advanced degree has been artificially inflated in the teaching profession. Good teachers know how to help kids succeed, regardless of their academic credentials.
“I’ve spent thirty-eight of my fifty-nine years going to high school and hanging out with teenagers. As I enter the twilight of my teaching career, I dream of better schools. I dream of independent students who are bold and assertive. I dream of students who have the enthusiasm of athletes. I dream of teachers who run their classrooms like coaches, tailoring courses to the talents and interests of their students. If schools were more like sports, maybe kids would love school.”