As I continue to read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, I am dumbfounded by how practical the things that Dale Carnegie talks about in his book. It's also pretty cool that I can read it on the Kindle program on my Ipod touch. Can I just say that ipod touches are an amazingly useful tool!
The chapter I just read talks about showing people that you appreciate them. In the previous chapter he talks about criticism and how Abraham Lincoln did not criticize people anymore after a certain point in his life and by the time he died people thought very well of him. I guess I wonder about criticism. As a child people would tell us that they were giving us "constructive criticism." Is there such a thing? Does criticism really build us up whatsoever?
Either way, criticism as far as I can tell has not been a very effective method as a teacher. We're so often getting bogged down in the negativity and do not address the positivity. We fail to acknowledge students for accomplishing what we expect them to do. I think of the police. They don't pull me over and give me a sticker when I am not speeding. They only pull me over when I do speed. Nevertheless, as a teacher, our constant reliance on only giving attention to those who do not do what we want are giving them negative attention. For the students who want attention (either negative or positive), they can still feed off of us.
In the book, Carnegie mentions that everyone has a desire to be important. As I was thinking about Ben Slavic's writing about ways to invent new identities for students in his classroom, this was a wonderful application of the concept. If we can give students an identity in our classroom that they will want to step into in which they are the best at something in Spanish, French or whatever language and we constantly can use that in class, they will want to be in our class.
I've been trying to think of ways to encourage my students more. Especially for those who are already doing exactly what I expect of them. I must be careful to distinguish between flattering and honest appreciation. Flattery is false and people can usually see right through it. But if I can offer encouraging words to someone for doing something well (no matter how small it is), I can offer more positiveness to this negative world, one comment at a time.
There was a quote that he has near the end of the chapter that I have written on my wall in my classroom to remind me each day to change my old negative ways:
I shall pass this way but once, any good therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again