Saturday, September 8, 2007

Character Series: Perseverance

"Fall seven times, stand up eight." ~Japanese Proverb

There are many words for it: perseverance, obstinacy, stick-to-it-iveness, persistence, pigheadedness. Each word carries a connotation with it, depending on the value we place on the task at hand.

Questions:

How do we encourage perseverance in accomplishing worthwhile goals?

How do we determine what a worthwhile goal is?


Perseverance Resources

1 comment:

Ed Latham said...

Posted by Ed Latham:

Jim I believe your question about "How do we determine what a worthwhile goal is?" is more imporantant. There are many famous speakers running around the country right now trying to show school teachers and administrators that there is a growing disconnect between real life and school life as far as student perception goes. If schools continue to loose touch with students' lives, goals and ambitions then the ability of schools to have meaningful impact will diminish. Closing that gap seems to be a very challenging, but worthwhile endevor.

Assuming we (including students) agree on a worthwile goal, how can we improve student perseverance? Whew, that is a tough one. I am afraid I do not have much for an answer, but I can offer my thoughts and concerns.

The family unit has changed such that in many cases both parents are not in the household offering support to the child. Even if both parents are in the picture, often one or both are not home when the child is home because of work schedules and other stuff. As a result, many parents have taken to the habit of enabling their children rather than working through some very tough but valuable lessons. "I want I want I want" is much easier and quicker to deal with by just giving in and moving on with the limited time the parent has for the child. This is sad, upsetting, and an ever increasing habit many parents are adopting.

Teachers have students with them for a good chunk of every waking day. Especially, in the elementary world, that teacher can have much to say about the habits students eventually adopt as that one teacher spends a considerable amount of time with that child. Or do they? If I have one teacher with 20 students over 6 hours how much time is that? Hmmmm, well 6 hours is 360 minutes and if I divide that evenly amongst all students then I would be looking at ... 18 min of time with each student. Contrast that individual time with the amount of time students spend with the television or the Internet. Both offer instant gratefication and the ability to change the channel should we encounter something we find boring, unpleasant or disagreeable. With the number of hours a day students have access to that kind of power, the challenge is in competing or trying to keep up with what the students experiences really are. I doubt that even a class room, designed by Stephen Spileburg with all sorts of special effects and cool activities would manage to have a lasting impact on students as they would grow used to the show and eventually look for other channels. There used to be people out there like the late Fred Rodgers that believed that television could be a great tool for helping young people grow up strong and wise. This generation knows of Mr. Rodgers, but only because of the comedy skits poking fun at Fred's quirks.

So, it does not apear we can simply become a new enterainment network for them to reach them. I feel the best, most effective means of increasing student perseverance is by working with parents. This is not ideal nor is it very practical. I can look to my own children and point out that there are many parents and adults out there that mean well for the children but do not value the same things. When we were kids we would play one parent or adult vs another to get what we wanted. Back then the parent or adult would eventually talk with others to find out how they had unknowingly been duped and would make some "adjustments" for the next go-around with the child. What is missing today is the adult communication and collaboration.

Not much for answers I am afraid. It is a topic I need much more thought on. At times things look bleek, but I keep working on it. If only I could get my kids to persevere as well!