Focus on What You Want

focusIn a previous post,  we refreshed the topic of “internal” vs. “external” motivators and how they affect children’s learning and thinking process. There is plenty of research, from Ackerly and other experts, saying reward systems are not the way to go if you want self-regulated,(calculated) risk takers, and problem solving thinkers.This applies to home and school – it’s easy to toss a treat, sticker or a bribe but it’s not moving your child in the direction you’d likely prefer. Even if we know this, the question can become, well then what do we focus on?

Learning Organizations Focus on Objectives

In Rick Ackerly’s article,  1st Grade Teacher Shows How to Design an Instant Learning Organization he  showcases one classroom (Janet’s classroom!) that has adopted mission-based learning vs. rule enforcement systems. (Anyone recognize the do not feed the weed similarities here?).

The Outcome: A Problem Solving Community Where Mistakes are Part of the Process

After Ackerly highlights how to create a learning organization, he says: “…by focusing the students on educational objectives rather than rules, Janet has made herself the leader of a group of motivated learners. Now her job is helping them with their mission, rather than keeping them in line.  Furthermore, defining a social “situation” as a problem-solving opportunity, focuses energy where it ought to be—becoming smarter.”To bring this a bit more into the Duct Tape Parenting context, “water what you want to flourish” is essentially a sentiment that can be adopted into the classroom. By focusing the students on a common set of goals, the energy in working together to meet those goals increases, and likewise the “problem” behaviors – those behaviors that “rules” tend to water and bring to the forefront, have far less purpose. When a classroom accepts mistakes as problems to be solved vs. rules that have been broken, children can usefully fold this learning into their personal academic experience.

What Does it Take? Elements of a Learning Organization (Or Mission Based Leadership vs. Enforcement Leadership)

  • Mission – Decide why you want change in your home, classroom, work session.
  • Strategy- What is the thinking / knowledge behind the mission, as it relates to YOUR situation?
  • Design– How are you going to enable this mission? What tools and structures will you put in place? What do the children bring to the mission?
  • Plan– How are you and the children going to execute the mission? What are the actions that will put in motion the change you’ve designed, strategized and established as the mission?
  • Summary– Reflect and notice what you’ve created- pay attention to what is working and what isn’t.

Have you done this in your home or classroom? What does your learning organization – at school or home- look like? Let us know! 

Video: Montessori Madness – The authentic Montessori classroom operates as a learning organization because the focus is on learning through trial and error, interest, self direction and with an objective of discovering a child’s true self in relationship to the world. There is an inherent trust in the child that is found both in the Montessori classroom and in Rick Ackerly’s learning organization.