You: "It's time to revive old-fashioned education. Not just traditional but old-fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands. Because here's the thing: It works."
Them: "What are you talking about?! That sounds 'mean' or out-of-touch!"
Well, blame #Joanne Lipman . She said it. And we agree with her. The reason? She offers eight principles (supported by both her recent research and our daily experience) that we strive to promote for our boys here at MUS--"a manifesto if you will, a battle cry inspired by my old teacher and buttressed by new research," explains Ms. Lipman. Her reference point is related to her former orchestra conductor, a "fierce Ukrainian immigrant" named Jerry Kupchynsky, or "Mr. K" as he is affectionately known. Yes, "affectionately." Read the article, but here's the basic argument:
1. A little pain is good for you.
2. Drill, baby, drill.
3. Failure is an option.
4. Strict is better than nice.
5. Creativity can be learned.
6. Grit trumps talent.
7. Praise makes you weak...
8....while stress makes you strong.
While we as a culture may not hesitate to employ these eight principles to athletics, we somehow have abandoned these principles in academics, and the national results lay before us. While American athletics have become increasingly more competitive, academics have not. Hmmm.
A final thought from Ms. Lipman:
"My tough old teacher Mr. K could have written the book on any one of these principles. Admittedly, individually, these are forbidding precepts: cold, unyielding, and kind of scary.
But collectively, they convey something very different: confidence. At their core is the belief, the faith really, in students' ability to do better. There is something to be said about a teacher who is demanding and tough not because he thinks students will never learn but because he is so absolutely certain that they will."
Our eighth graders have the distinct pleasure of experiencing the "tough teaching" as delivered through Mr. Shelton (short) and Mr. Sellers (tall), just to name two. Here they stand at the ready, not peddling television as an alternative to studying, but as they delivered alphabetical Parents' Back to School packets.
No doubt, Mr. Shelton and Mr. Sellers embrace these eight principles, and their students would attest to the fact that these two teachers, among many here, while tough, are both "fair and reasonable." The positive results of their teaching philosophy and ethics/practice reside in the lives of hundreds of boys, similar to the former students of Mr. K.