I have the privilege of teaching at a number of top business schools around the world. Last week I gave classes at Harvard and at MIT. This is a video from IEEM Business School in Montevideo, Uruguay where I spend a week each October teaching on their MBA and Executive Leadership programs.
The video is a good short (90 seconds) description of what I want participants to learn through my Leadership Communications program.
This is a guest post from Riya Sander. Riya is an overseas teacher. She has spent her past 5 years teaching in Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines.
All too often, I hear adults tell children to simply “do the right thing”.
This is not enough. We need to help children figure out:
what is the right thing or
how to decide what is right.
Teaching in various schools, in various countries, I’ve seen a wide range of responses: from completely ignoring ethics to teaching ethical decision making at all levels of the school curriculum.
Some parents ask if ethics and education belong together. Ethics are the shared values of a given group or culture. There are some ethical values that are widely shared, and others that vary widely depending on the local culture. This is one of the conflicts that children must be taught about.
Not just “It is Wrong”, but Why is it Wrong?
One ethics teacher, Alyssa Kelly, described teaching ethics this way: “The emphasis is not on moral instruction but on finding reasons why something might be right or wrong.” Instead of teaching students what is right or wrong, ethics courses for primary school students focus on teaching them how to decide for themselves what is right or wrong.
Students are faced with challenging social situations on a regular basis. Not every moral instruction can be blindly applied to every situation. When I ask my students if it’s okay to lie, they respond “no” in unison every time, in every class, regardless of what country I was teaching in. The nuances of “right” and “wrong” are more subtle when students have to choose between the lesser of two evils.
Ethical Decisions are Never Black and White
I once had a female student whose friend was contemplating suicide. The suicidal girl told her friend what she was thinking of doing to herself, but asked her not to tell anyone. She asked her friend to keep her plans a secret. The friend, my student, was distraught. Someone was in danger, but she was asked to keep that danger a secret. Thanks to her ethics classes, she was able to reason her way through the situation. She later told me that, although she felt bad about breaking her promise to keep her friend’s secret, the resulting intervention and the fact that the broken promise helped to save her friend’s life was worth it. The suicidal girl was angry at the time, but became very thankful to her friend after therapy.
Ethical choices apply to what students say as well. With the growth of social media and its use earlier and earlier by students, we do them a great service by teaching them how to make ethical decisions about what to do and what to say before they reach the quagmire of social media. An acronym I frequently use with my students, which fits well in the ESL curriculum, is before you post/write/speak, THINK. Consider these factors: is what you’re about to say True, Helpful, Informative, Necessary, and Kind. We then discuss what these words mean to each of us. Students always enjoy the play on words: they learn about thinking, and each of those factors requires serious personal thought.
Did you T.H.I.N.K.?
“Sitting in a circle listening to other people is a skill set that many adults could benefit from.” Alyssa Kelly
Once we’ve learned this acronym, students often help each other remember what to do: “May, did you THINK before you said that to Kai?” This is one of the great benefits of having these kids talk through questions that make them think. As teacher Alyssa Kelly said, “Sitting in a circle listening to other people is a skill set that many adults could benefit from.”
One of the keys to this type of program is starting early. The earlier primary school students start to learn about how to think through ethical questions, the easier it will be for them. Skills learned early in life are foundational. This type of problem solving will lead to greater skill in more and more complicated problems that students will encounter later in life.
The Benefits of Early Ethical Education
Ethics and education go hand in hand. In addition to teaching children facts and figures, teaching ethics begins to lay the groundwork of metacognition: thinking about how we think. If we can help them develop an awareness of how they think about things and how they make value decisions early in life, we set them up to make better choices throughout their lives as well as preparing them for higher level thinking that will be of great use later in their education.
About the Author: Riya Sander is an overseas teacher. She holds a master’s degree from Australia Institute of Business & Technology. She has spent her past 5 years teaching in ESL countries i.e. Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines. She currently works for Point to Point Education, a dynamic education recruitment company.
De duodecim abusivis saeculi “On the Twelve Abuses of the World” is a self-help book written by an Irish author between 630 and 700AD. You could say that it was the earliest precursor to Steven Covey, Brian Tracy or Jim Rohn.
The work was widely propagated throughout Europe by Irish missionaries in the 8th century. Its authorship was often attributed to Saint Patrick (the general view today is that it was not his work).
Duodecim abusivis saeculi
De duodecim condemns the following twelve abuses:
the wise man without works; sapiens sine operibus
the old man without religion; senex sine religione
the young man without obedience; adolescens sine oboedientia
the rich man without charity; dives sine elemosyna
the woman without modesty; femina sine pudicitia
the nobleman without virtue; dominus sine virtute
the argumentative Christian; Christianius contentiosus
the proud pauper; pauper superbus
the unjust king; rex iniquus
the neglectful bishop; episcopus neglegens
the community without order; plebs sine disciplina
the people without a law; populus sine lege
This form of document is part of a broad category of medieval literature called “Mirrors for Princes”. They were developed to educate future kings in the leadership qualities that would be needed in their role as king. The best known of these works is The Prince by Machiavelli.
This was posted at Maria Popova’s blog Brainpickings back in 2012. I’m not a big fan of John Cage as a composer (he is most famous for over 4 minutes of silence…) but he was an inspiration for (and promoter of) these 10 rules:
10 Rules for Students and Teachers
RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.
RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.
RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.
RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)
HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.
The list, commonly titled Some Rules for Students and Teachers, is often attributed to John Cage. The list, however, originates from celebrated artist and educator Sister Corita Kent and was created as part of a project for a class she taught in 1967-1968.
A good gardener creates the conditions for growth of a garden, but cannot force the flowers to grow in an exact way. The good gardener creates the conditions and accepts what arises.
The bad gardener fights what arises. The bad gardener hacks and chops and fights against the natural growth of nature.
The good gardener changes the conditions and different plant shapes and varieties arise.
In each case the attitude of the gardener is “Interesting! I wouldn’t have expected that.” Creative indifference as a gardener is a deep curiosity, and an openness to delight in the million and one ways that nature can arise.
Good Teaching as Good Gardening
I want to teach more as a gardener than as a sculptor.
Up to now I often find that I am trying to remake a participant into my image of what she could be – I am metaphorically hacking off bits of stone and adding bits of paint.
A good gardener allows the plant to grow in its own unique way. Nature is difference. Nature is no straight lines, no leaf exactly like any other leaf, no flower exactly like any other flower.
I want to focus more on creating the conditions for growth in the classroom, during the breaks, during the lunches… that would allow the participants to grow in their own individual way – and have less fixed ideas about how each individual will use those conditions. I want to be willing to allow the person to become who he is to become, rather than my ideal of what he could be.
If life’s journey is like a bus ride: there are drivers, and there are passengers.
(there are also conductors, there are navigators, there are engineers…)
There are a lot more passengers on the bus than drivers.
What does it take to be a driver?
The drivers are people that passengers can believe in. Who do we believe in? I am reminded of the Trust Equation. Trust is made up of 4 elements – credibility, reliability, intimacy and other-orientation.
Sometimes I am a passenger on the journey: I am seeking validation of my ideas, my projects and my life.
Great teachers know how to balance enough validation with enough allowance for the development of self-validation capacity. The best teachers are mature enough to avoid giving me the explicit validation that I think I want, but they know that if they give it, I will become an addict to their validation, not to building my own inner capacity to self-validate.
…and my next question for today:
Whats the difference between a rockstar and a guy with a guitar in his bedroom?
UCD Smurfit Business School will be hosting a 3 day Influence and Persuasive Communications Seminar on January 14-16 2015.
About UCD Smurfit Business School
UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School is Ireland’s leading business school and research centre. The school offers a wide range of postgraduate business programmes that equip students to become the business leaders of the future.
UCD Smurfit are one of less than 60 business schools worldwide to hold triple accreditation from the US, Europe and the UK accrediting bodies.
Using a wide range of practical tools and concepts, participants will learn how to use both emotional and rational intelligence to persuade others in one-on-one situations and presentations.
It is a highly interactive course that will see participants acquire techniques for establishing credibility and managing nervous energy.
In addition they will gain valuable expertise in delivering diverse types of speeches by mastering the clear and powerful communication that is vital for accomplishing any business objective in today’s economic climate.