Thursday, March 28, 2013

* Treating Others

The future Director and his newborn daughter, in 2008.

Good Direction

A young man about half my age (I’m 68) who used to be a student in my homeroom a couple of decades ago, is now the  Director of a high school career and technology center with hundreds of enrolled students.   Last week he had a brainstorm idea about his own facebook page which has 870 “friends:”  Why not create a Month of Compliments contest, the only rule of which is that every day you write a compliment about someone and send it to them.

Within three days his Month of Compliments facebook game  had  over 40,000 views, and 3,800 actual compliments.

I cite this ingenious idea because it is part of my young friend’s repertoire of anti-bullying behavior which he models for his students.  He doesn’t tell students NOT to bully, he encourages them to do the opposite by doing it himself.

His office and the Director’s desk open onto the main lobby of the "tech center."  His door is most always open and kids are free to drop in without an appointment, whether he is there or not.  On the table in front of the Director’s desk is a basket of fruit and two baskets of granola bars.  Students are invited to take whatever they wish, with one proviso written on a poster in front of the fruit basket:  For each piece of fruit or for each granola bar taken, you must pay a compliment to four different people today.

My friend , the Director, tells me that the kids actually keep the contract.  He hears it spreading in the hallways.

What a different world this would be if we rewarded the behavior we desired to promote with the same intensity with which  we punish the behavior we seek to discourage.

B.F. Skinner, the renowned psychologist,  knew this and his reward/punishment technique is today called The Skinner Box.

Another 'Director' knew this too.  

He declared it from a mountain in an ancient world.  

His technique is today called The Golden Rule.


No comments: