Monday, March 23, 2015

“If you REALLY want to know what another person is like, notice how he or she treats the less fortunate or those without position or title.” ― Steve Shallenberger, Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders

When I was a child, I remember my mother teaching "The Golden Rule" to my two brothers and me on more than one occasion. She was never a "yeller"; if we were doing something wrong, she sat us down and calmly talked to us about our behavior, explaining how our poor behavior was affecting the others in the house. Truthfully, I have no memory of my mother raising her voice when we were young,  except when she thought my older brother was drowning in the pool at the YMCA (he was drowning- she took off her glasses, dove in, clothes and all, and saved him. My mother was a great swimmer.)  Audrey, my mother, was a gentle soul who taught us to put ourselves in the other person's shoes,  think about our behavior, decide if we would like to be on the receiving end of that behavior, stop the inappropriate behavior, and apologize.  When George and I were very small, I would guess 4 and 6  (Brian did not come along until I was 6 and George was 8), Mom put each of us on her knees, facing each other, while she talked in a calm and low voice about not hitting girls or pulling hair and a score of other behavior issues, and each talk ended with a tearful head hanging apology and the abrupt stoppage of the bad behavior.  Looking back, my mother led by example. She never said anything mean about others, and the empathy Audrey showed to everyone she met shaped my personality and made me the person I am today.   On more than one occasion I observed that she was the same with her grandchildren: patient, kind, firm, and loving, but not yelling.

Where does The Golden Rule come from? The Golden Rule actually has its roots in many forms or religious practices, not just Christianity.  Early Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism all have the "Do unto others" concept, but most cultures through the ages have employed a form of The Golden Rule as a concept and method use to solve problems.

So, where is The Golden Rule today? Do you see it in action on a daily basis?

Although I had the opportunity to learn The Golden Rule early in life from a caring parent, during my 37 year teaching career, I taught many students who were not familiar with the concept of The Golden Rule.  My career began in 1974 and I retired in 2011 and during those 37 years, I was just one witness to the demise of the family unit. Two parents and supervision at home slowly changed to other forms of a less cohesive family unit. Because the price of living has become so high, both parents work, or in some cases, a single parent is working two jobs, and just don't have the time to teach their children the way my mother taught me. The job of teaching The Golden Rule has fallen on the classroom teacher, who is already overworked and" Common Cored" and tested to the point of exhaustion and burnout. How can teachers put this important lesson for all of society in front of their students?

I think that when teachable moments arise, teachers should seize those moments to teach The Golden Rule, even if they do not use that term for the expected behavior.  The lesson can be reinforced in many daily classroom situations throughout the year.  I suspect that if this lesson were spotlighted more often, bullying cases would also subside. Of course, the very BEST method of teaching the Golden Rule is for the teacher to model the behavior.  

Teachers, please take those precious teachable moments and share the idea of The Golden Rule as a rule of society with your students. Let me know if you see a change in behavior. Looks like my mother really did know best. 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Rittman Publishing, LLC

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