Saturday, September 15, 2012

Magic of Acknowledgement

Growing up in Far East, I don't recall any specific memories of being praised in school or at home.  Whether if you raise your hand or or were quiet, they are plain and simple ordinary expectations that you must demonstrate without any excuses. You may not pass your teachers without a bow in the hallway even if you are in hurry.  So, I used to wonder why the U.S. teachers, almost without exception, thank students so easily for raising their hand and being quiet.  Soon I realized that I was experiencing a type of culture shock.

Mr. Lucky Sun was my third grade teacher.  There is a saying of typical fearful items in Japan, "Earthquake, Thunder, Fire, and Old Man".  When you say aloud in the original language phrase, ending two rhyming lines make a whole picture extremely unique in sound. You might not resist to repeat it again although all words are symbolized of disasters.  The old man, in this case, was Mr. Lucky Sun.  I was not afraid of earthquake, thunder, or fire, but Mr. Lucky Sun.  His commanding voice, especially in P.E., would instantly chill everyone's blood.  Contradictory, I liked him a lot because of the 2' by 3' sized certificates for the signature of a good job.  A little tiny sized certificate reminded me almost of a train ticket, but it was 100 times worth than a train ticket.  While no teacher or any adults ever had applauded my accomplishments, this tiny recognition of my achievement motivated me in the active participation, the number of hand raising, and research presentation.  It was not a pizza party or a prize box.  It was just a hand written construction piece of paper.  Mr. Lucky Sun never thanked me for raising my hand, but acknowledged me for what I was doing.

An interesting connection of this arose several decades later in the western soil.  One of the techniques in "Teaching Love and Logic"is to walk by a student and whisper what he/she does.  For instance, "You are writing carefully in your notebook."  It should be a simple description without any judgmental opinion of good or bad.  Students are empowered by their own teacher's acknowledgement.  "Somebody is always and truly caring about me," the young one would consider.  The positive rapport make these youngsters want to do good for this teacher.  Even teachers, like the scarey teacher Mr. Lucky Sun, must remember they have their own magic of acknowledgement in the tool box.   Pick up this wand and swing it!  It will magically shorten the distance between your students and you'll be like a tide that tries to reach to the land.