In the car, we talk about quitting karate. He tells me he doesn’t understand why the karate teachers can’t start from the positive and then help him get better. “Why can’t they say, ‘You are doing that kick great! Now let’s work on this other kick?'”
“Actually,” I say, “You are kinda describing a teaching philosophy where you teach from areas of strength. Jennifer Serravallo says –”
“Is that the one with the dark curly hair that wrote the books you love?”
I just nod. Yep. That’s the one.
“Why do they have to say you are on the test list, or you aren’t on the test list?”
I just shake my head, “I don’t know…”
“I mean, couldn’t they just say, ‘The test is on this day.” Then I’d be motivated. It’s so un-motivating to be told all the things I’m doing wrong. Why would I want to try?”
“You are really motivated by positive feedback.” I say, and he nods his head.
“Can I write about this in my blog?” I ask him.
He wonders why, and I try to explain that I think a lot of kids are motivated by positive feedback. And then I wonder, who isn’t?
I’m lost in thought. A few years ago I deliberately changed my teaching language. I started saying things like “I’ve gathered you today because your work in this is awesome, and you are ready for this next great thing!” When I first started, I thought kids would see right through my language switch. What I didn’t count on was that they saw right through my language switch to the very core of what I was doing — knowing what they could do, and believing in them. Starting from a strength makes a kid smile, it makes them sit up a little straighter, believing in themselves. In karate, it might make them kick higher, practice more, or even not quit.
“Okay.” He says. “You can write about this.”