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 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.