More on Role Models

I have written my last 20 papers leading to this point. I hope what follows has made reading this group of papers worth the effort. What are next are papers I hope clearly describes a series of workshops for teachers from pre-school through 3rd grade. The primary goal of the workshops is to teach the art of Leadershipand being the best possible Role Model to their students. All of this leading to a realization of community and close and supportive relationships with each other regardless of race, color, religion and financial circumstance. Also note that the workshops have almost 40 years of study, development and application and most important have proven remarkably successful with professionals and entrepreneurs.

Before I go there I’d like to tell a brief story. Although this takes place in mid-1950s the story is as vivid to me today as if it happened this morning.

I set up a counseling office in an elementary school. My reason for being there was to work with troubled students and teachers who felt they needed someone outside of administration to talk to. One morning at about 10: am a young boy about 9 years old was brought to me by the principle due to trouble he was causing in his class.  

We sat looking at each other for a minute or two when I ask him “what did you have for breakfast?” Without hesitating he answered “I had wheaties and banana.” I asked him who made his breakfast and he proudly answered “I did, I made it myself.” “Good for you!” I responded. “Do you have any sisters or brothers?” I asked. “One,” he answered. “She’s 7 so I made her breakfast, too.” “That’s great.” I responded. We waited another minute or two and he asked if he could go back to his class. “Sure,” I said and he left to return to his classroom. About 2 hours later (lunch) I went to the teachers’ lounge and the boy’s teacher literally ran over to me and almost breathlessly asks me “what miracle took place when Tom was with you?” “Oh, we talked about what he had for breakfast.” “Didn’t he tell you about the fight his parents had?” She asked. “No, it never came up.” “When he returned to the class room he actually apologized to me and then apologized to his classmates. What happened?” More, of course, to follow.  Sy

Role Models

Parents are immensely powerful and influential over their children beginning with conception. They are, in subtle and gross ways the child’s Role Models and through natural process arefixed in place emotionally, mentally and physically to their creation. By taking care of themselves the parents contribute to what is to become (hopefully) a healthy child that becomes essentially what their parents are.

Although I stretch the meaning of Role Model which we normally associate with those we select to model after. Here I intend this to cover the people directly involved with the child until the child leaves the nest. During this time period (approximately 3 years) the immediate family (mother, father, siblings) play a vital role in whom and what the child becomes. I have, in previous papers used the symbolic “kitchen table” as the site where most of the role model’s power and influence is exercised, but of course I mean the home and its permanent residents.

 By the time the child leaves the nest the child is generally formed and influenced, even if not fully conscious of the attributes and attitudes they carry with them. The “kitchen table” is a powerful teaching environment thanks to their role models and if the child sees this new world from only their “kitchen table” role models they are severely limited in what they know and believe.

 But pre-school offers the potential for a whole new world and people experiences. The relationships that take place and the new and different role models will influence how they experience their immediate world, classmates and adults. The opportunities are profound and must be taken advantage of. Here is when the Teacheris also LeaderandRole Model. These roles that teachers ARE(not play) needs to have a “world view,” respect and regard for a child’s uniqueness, listens, understands, empowers and cares for them. The teacher accepts and uses subject matter as only a part of the education experienceand that relationships and dialogue counts for so much more. The ideal Role Model knows we are each more than a self—-we are family.   Sy

The Birth of a Philosophy-Pt.3

The Role Model I’m writing about is “authentic” and rare. They are what one sees, hears and easily relates to.  No physical, mental or behavioral disorder exists that forces this role model to hide or wear a costume. They are whole within themselves and when with others. They are relatively easy to know and understand. They are what they are and for them “life is what it is.” Events dictate their behavior.  

When they do have influence and power over others, whether through position or selected by others as a role model, they work to empower those they live with, work, and befriend; they do not seek dependent relationships.  It is particularly important to note that the role model I refer to does not select anyone to be role model to. Yes, they are automatically role models as parents, leaders and teachers. Otherwise they are selected by those that believe they benefit by having the role model in their life. I repeat, the role model I have in mind does not seek being role model to anyone. It is also true that there are people who thirst to be multiple role models and to have power and influence over others. They relish this role over others whether spouse, children or coworkers. They love power over almost anything, but in particular over people. They are mentally and emotionally sick. What matters to them is control and winning.

When I write of teachers beginning with pre-school through 3rdgrade being role models I do not intend that the benefits and problems associated with “being a role model” diminish or go away as we age. I do believe the influence of the role model may be most important and effective for children ages to about 10 and why the early grades are most important.  I know as a leader and teacher for most ages I was a role model both chosen and not.  I did not ask during my teaching and entrepreneurial periods. I can only guess of my success or failure. In paper 18 I shared a bit about working with 5thand 6th graders and know for sure that my students enjoyed being together, learned and grew. I must have done a fair to middling job as role model, leader and teacher? I certainly hope so; and most certainly when I played at being an entrepreneur for 25 years and mentoring leaders and key personnel for the following 35 years.  Sy 

Aspiring to be an Effective Leader

After I retired from working with leaders, power and key personnel, I refer to as “the Inner Circle,” I sought an outlet in order to express what I know is essential if one aspires to being an effective leader. Writing seemed to be the best vehicle as long as I was determined to continue teaching what is to me the answer to relationship and leadership issues. One page essays have become my way of sharing my thoughts to this day. I also developed a respect for the Haiku, a Japanese way of expressing stuff and nature from the 13th century. The form is 5, 7 and 5 syllables on 3 lines and not a penny more. When I have space on a page I add a few Haikus always taken from the meat of the paper. I love how much so few words can mean.
But the point to this page that I’m presently writing is to clarify why the sequential approach over the last few months. I feel and believe the sickness and destruction discrimination and hatred has brought to societies for many centuries is treatable and may even be, eventually, eliminated. But, it won’t happen in families, their homes and around the Kitchen Table.
Working with leaders, organizations and families of many leaders I often witnessed significant changes in people’s behavior and attitude. Dialogue happened more frequently as did listening and understanding of each other. I also look back on my teaching and classroom days with 5th and 6th graders and camp. Not only do I clearly remember changes in the ways many related to each other, but am told how meaningful to this day; music to my mind and heart.
The work we did in the workplace, the work counselors did at camp and the way I related to my students in the classroom made differences in the lives of most that participated. This way of relating and communicating are what I will share in my coming papers. No theory or “hair brained” ideas; just the facts. Sy
Discrimination——–why this and hatred one has——–what is taught, how else?

Some Background on My Papers

My upbringing, the influence of family, friends, Chicago, Army, UCLA,  Lenette all contributed to my philosophy towards people. Even the relationship I had with the three Japanese prisoners on Okinawa played a significant part in whom and what I was to become. Add to this my becoming an entrepreneur at the same time being a full time student, building a business, training and working with staff, parents and their children. Like good soup, it came together and benefitted so many.  

Working with children began in Chicago after the service. It was a small Day Camp we ran in the parks and the beaches. It all contributed to learning about boys and girls and their needs and the importance of dialogue between us. In other words, I recognized that the more the kids were involved in selecting activities the more they enjoyed and learned.

I did not realize that a philosophy of leadership and participation was being discovered and nurtured. But whether aware or not I followed and fulfilled the demands of the kids. The camp grew and so did I. 

Left for California and UCLA to study psychology and although the GI Bill helped, pocket money was necessary. Running a Day Camp was a natural for me so found a site to rent and built a Day Camp for a few children. The few children turned into hundreds, a staff of 100, much training, activities from horses to anything and everything campers wanted and we believed they needed. Oh yes, we owned 35 small buses. 

Coming: A description of our pragmatic philosophy of leadership, teaching and attraction to most people.    Sy

The Birth of a Philosophy-Pt2

My experience with the LA Bd of Ed. began in the mid 50s and continued to the mid 60s. During this time I did folksong concerts, was a “story teller,” had counseling sessions with troubled students and teachers, did Inquiry Training with 5thand 6thgraders and for extended periods took over classroom teaching with difficult 5thand 6thgraders.  In other words my time with LA elementary school education was full, challenging and fun.

My working philosophy came right out of my camp experiences with campers and staff. I made my students a big part of what we did in every possible way. We would talk about what we were doing and to be doing. In fact, dialogue was constant between us as a group and as individuals dealing with one’s unique issues. I was always available for one on one talk and if they did not come to me, I went to them. 

When it came to academics like math or reading I would assign A and B students to work with a class mate that was a C or D student while I would work, one on one, with F students. When the slower students improved, and they always did, their mentor would be acknowledged and receive applause from their class mates. Also, to continually mix them with each other so that getting to know their fellow classmates and to develop some degree of responsibility towards each other was assured.

The relationships we established with each other and as a tribe or gang was a constant. Nothing took place that did not accentuate both the “I” as an individual and the importance of group. This grew to the point that Saturday’s and Sunday’s actually got in the way of school and their being together during the week. They missed each other and I have to guess that they missed my being the adult amongst them? Many years later and with the help of intimate work and relationship with leaders, along with intense study in the history of Leadership and power, I accept that I was a “role model” and not just a leader to campers, staff and my students. Being a “role model” is vastly different from being a leader, but is absolutely essential to a leader’s success with those they lead.   Sy

The Birth of a Philosophy-Pt 1

It’s time to share my recommendations having to do with Teachers of pre-school through 3rdgrade.  This may take a few papers and we shall see what we shall see.

A reminder: In 1948 we opened a small Day Camp in LA. Just a few young, enthusiastic adults so we probably spent most of our time together discussing logistics not a philosophy to teach and live by.  But the camp exploded far beyond our expectations so we had to employ considerably more people and with this began to develop a practical philosophy having to do with purpose. In other words, did we have certain goals in mind, beyond simply playing games and teaching non-swimmers how to swim? And, by the way, ages of children, from as young as three to and including early teens.

We held monthly meetings throughout the winter with all staff in attendance and discussed our responsibilities to each child and what best way to meet children’s, parents and our expectations. The experiences I had in Chicago with our few children and their participation in selecting activities was our starting point to building a meaningful philosophical system. This proved not only unique, but successful. 

Worth emphasizing is the participation we asked from the campers. Not only did they all talk about activities as a group (max of 8 campers, a young adult leader and a teen-age assistant), but as a group made out their own plan for the day. No higher-up created a schedule for the day’s activities. If it required scheduling (eg, horseback riding) someone was assigned the task of going to the stable and establish time for lessons and horses. Very important is that they stayed together even if someone feared horses. If one or two chose not to ride they helped out at the stable while the group went out on the trail. So what took place within a group was talk and a deep understanding and respect for each other. Each day at camp they walked, talked, learned and played together. They became a tribe, a gang, but in a most positive way. The gift of Dialogue was given to each. None were excluded, were silent and participation made easy.As Leader & Role Model the counselor blended in until and when events dictated they take charge.  Sy