You probably don’t know the guy in the picture. Until recently, I didn’t know him either. His name is Charles Handy and it turns out that in the world of business and management he is rather famous. An Irish philosopher and author, Handy has been rated on the Thinkers 50 list, a list that ranks the most influential living management thinkers. In 2001, he was second on the list, behind only Peter Drucker. In 2005, he was tenth. Sounds like a tough list.
I digress. Anyway, in a book he wrote entitled The Hungry Spirit (his eleventh book, written in 1997) he outlined the ingredients for a successful school system in the modern world (But aren’t we in the post-modern era? Again, I digress.) He listed four ingredients for success, although it was the first one that struck me for some reason. Handy’s first ingredient, at the top of the list is – ( d r u m r o l l )
* The discovery of oneself is more important than the discovery of the world.
What a great choice theory statement! Those seeking to learn about choice theory and put it’s principles to use in their lives really are on a journey to discovering themselves. As you come to recognize that the pictures in your quality world have been purposefully placed there by you, it becomes clear that knowing yourself is of the utmost importance. Blaming others or the world for your problems makes less and less sense as you realize the significance of your power to think and to act.
Handy must have recognized the importance of this challenge, too, and recommended that teachers assist students in discovering their own identities and strengths. Discovering their identity is one of the greatest gifts a student could ever receive. Coming into a knowledge of who they are, what they value, what makes them happy, what fulfills them, and the behaviors that bring them closer to the important people in their lives will put students on the road to success.
In case you are curious about the other three ingredients on Handy’s list. Here they are –
* Everyone is good at something.
* Life is a marathon, not a horse race. (Don’t focus on testing to the exclusion of cooperation, team working, curiosity, and confidence.)
* The best learning comes after experience. (So much education nowadays comes before experience.)
Teaching students about the basic needs and the quality world is a sure way to help them discover who they are. Glasser once said that there is nothing in choice theory that a six year old can’t understand. I agree with him.
With smaller children, up to age 7, focus on simply teaching them about the basic needs. Give them simple definitions. As you read stories to the children, ask them about the basic needs of the characters in the story. Have them think out loud about which needs seem to be the strongest. As different situations come up in the classroom, take a moment and review the basic need that helped or hindered a good outcome. The point is to dialogue openly with the students about the needs. Don’t focus on what a particular student’s needs are. Just talk about them in general.
As students get older they become more able to consider their own personality makeup and to consider their own basic need strengths. This is an excellent time to introduce the quality world to students, as the people and things and activities we collect in our quality world give us clues into what our personal basic needs really are.
An excellent resource for primary grade teachers is My Quality World Workbook by Carleen Glasser. You can purchase the workbook at www.wglasserbooks.com or you can call 310-313-5800.
Choice Theory Study Group is this coming Sabbath afternoon, January 25, 2:00 pm in the PUC Education Department building, Room 212.
Very interesting post, Jim. I’m reminded again of how the principles of Choice Theory are reflective of the great spiritual truths which transcend all periods of history and culture – and yes, the worlds of education and business. I highly recommend Daniel Pink’s latest book: “To Sell is Human – The Surprising Truth About Moving Others” – in fact, I”d really like to see you do a book review!
Sales and Teaching are professions that exist to move others. He points out so clearly the differences between practicing each profession in a “Choice Theory” or a “Force Theory” manner – and why only the behavior of educating people about their options and allowing them to choose what they believe is most beneficial for them works in the long run. The interesting thing is, it’s not a one-sided equation, the end result is always best for the teacher or salesman too – again, a spiritual principle. It sure does take faith to live by this principle as a salesman living on commission though – I can testify to that 🙂
Thank you for your good work.
Daniel Pink is a modern Glasser. He is eloquently describing the choice theory process, especially how that process involves our internal control mechanism, and he is writing about the process in a way that is garnering New York Times Best-Seller status. I’m rooting for him, even though he doesn’t acknowledge Glasser or give him credit. Thank you for the recommendation on To Sell Is Human. I will check it out.
Hope you are doing well!
Oh, a couple of my students went to Berea a couple of weeks ago and really, really enjoyed it. More will be coming.
I wonder how much he knows about Glasser’s work. It would be interesting to try to make a connection and find out, wouldn’t it.
We really enjoyed having the students at Berea. Hope to see you and more of them as often as possible.
I plan on sending him a copy of the Glasser biography. Maybe that will help to make a connection.