Steve Heisler

Teacher Author Speaker


"Every single child wants to be successful. The problem is, if they can't be successful at being successful, they'll be successful at screwing up. Our job as educators is to change the latter to the former."    

- from the The Missing Link by Steve Heisler

55 Annoying Rules of Success

Based on even a glance, Ron Clark's 55 Rules for Success (excerpted here), appear to be not success skills at all. What they seem instead are rules that will make you successful so long as Ron Clark is in charge of your world. I would even go so far as to say that many, many other people share Ron Clark's narrow view of right and wrong.   However these "success skills" boil down to, essentially: 'here is the rule, shut your pie-hole and follow it.' In my view, they are actually the antithesis of what good success skill teaching ought to be about.

Number 19, for example, “When I assign homework, there is to be no moaning or 
complaining. This will result in a doubled assignment.” 

Frankly, this is the kind of shit that just annoys me. If you changed that statement to a different set of standards, such as 'if you moan and complain about ten lashes, I'll give you twenty' most good folks would be shocked and outraged at such treatment.

Such "rules" have everything to do with enforcing a power structure and nothing to do with a meaningful rationale for homework that can result in the kind of student empowerment that becomes part of a student's habit of success. What you are actually teaching with such a rule is not a success skill unless you consider blindly following orders a success skill. Many folks might appreciate such a skill but it is not what I would want my child to learn.

Am I suggesting students should have a say in whether they get homework? Not really. However what I am suggesting is that if there is value in the work we are asking kids to do, we ought we be able to communicate its value without feeling that our authority is being questioned.

That seems to me simple logic: if a teacher cannot rationally defend the homework being assigned as being meaningful, maybe the teacher needs to work harder at creating more meaningful homework, though I suppose squelching dissent is probably more fun. I mean hey, Putin seems to dig it!