By Dr. Harry Tennant


by Harry Tennant
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Entries from November 2010
Posts 1 - 4 of 4

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

8 to be Great and 21st Century Skills

Richard St. John's, The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common: 8 to be Great is the distillation of a large number of interviews with successful people into the most critical lessons for success. He interviewed about 500 successful people in diverse fields and collected additional interviews of successful people, compiling a big database on their thoughts on the keys to success.

St. John identified about 300 traits and from those, he identfied eight major traits, shared most widely. The eight traits are listed below.

  1. Passion: Successful people love what they do
  2. Work: They work very hard
  3. Focus: They focus on one thing, not everything
  4. Push: They keep pushing themselves
  5. Ideas: They come up with good ideas
  6. Improve: They keep improving themselves and what they do
  7. Serve: They serve others something of value
  8. Persist: They persist through time, failure and adversity

One of the interesting characteristics of these traits is that they are not inate. They are thought to be learnable, which suggests that they can help nearly anyone achieve their success in their lives.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills advocates teaching and assessing students on skills that go beyond the typical core curriculum. The 21st Century Skills include

  • Creativity and innovation
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Initiative and self-direction
  • Social and cross-cultural skills
  • Productivity and accountability
  • Leadership and responsibility

This list of skills certainly looks like good skills for students to acquire. But if St. John is correct, and his list of traits are the most critical for success, what are the right skills to teach?

  • Should we teach how to find and pursue a passion (found to be the most critical trait of successful people)?
  • Should we teach students how to focus and minimize distractions?
  • Should we teach students how to persist on long-term projects and how to overcome disappointments?
  • Should we teach students how to assess whether a piece of work is actually useful to and serves others and how to make it even more valuable to others?

It is debatable, of course, whether St. John's eight traits are truly the most important. But if we assume for a moment that they are, shouldn't we teach students to acquire the traits for success?

Posted at 9:44 PM (permalink) 4 Comments View/Leave Comment Share this post with email Share this post on Facebook Share this post on Twitter Share this post on LinkedIn
Keywords: success


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success

Although John Wooden thought of himself as a teacher, as the head basketball coach at UCLA, he was the winningest coach in college basketball. Yet, he never mentioned winning to his players.

Winning is something you don't have control over, but you do have control over yourself. Coach Wooden defined success this way:

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.

He emphasized to his players that success is the result of a set of habits which he called the Pyramid of Success as shown below.

Coach Wooden's
Pyramid of Success

Competitive Greatness
Be at your best when your best is needed
Just being yourself
Comes from being prepared and keeping proper perspective
Mental, Moral, Physical.
Moderation must be practiced
A knowledge of and the ability to execute the fundamentals
Team Spirit
An eagerness to sacrifice personal interest for the wellfare of all
Self Control
Practice self-discipline and keep emotions under control
Be observant and eager to learn and improve
Don't be afraid of failure but learn from it
Being determined and persistent
There is no substitute for work
Requires a joint effort
To yourself and all those depending on you
Be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way
You must truly enjoy what you're doing

I highly recommend his book, Wooden on Leadership. Despite its title, it's not just a book about business leadership and despite its author, it's not a book about sports. It's a book about the habits of character that lead to success: doing the best of which you're capable. It's a great message to pass on to students as well as great advice on how to set an example for the students and staff you work with.

Posted at 8:42 PM (permalink) 3 Comments View/Leave Comment Share this post with email Share this post on Facebook Share this post on Twitter Share this post on LinkedIn
Keywords: success


Friday, November 26, 2010

Fighting obesity at school and at home

This is a follow-on to Dan's previous post on nutrition.

You may know Jamie Oliver as the Naked Chef on the Food Channel. (It's not that the chef is naked, the food is...free of excess fat, sugar, salt, preservatives and other chemicals.) He has an excellent talk in which he discusses the seriousness of the obesity epidemic and a simple approach to a solution: teach children about food and have everyone learn to cook ten healthy, easy recipes...and then pass the recipes on.


One of his slides is really good. It shows causes of death in the US and highlights the causes that are linked to diet in red. The little bar way down at the bottom of the graph is for homocide, which gets so much attention in the news. The vastly bigger red bars, diet-related causes of death, get far less attention.

What does this have to do with education? A large part of the problem is failing to understand just how our diet is actually killing us (see graph above) and what we can do about it. Education can fix that.

In the spirit of Jamie Oliver's suggestion that we share good recipes, what is a favorite recipe of yours that's delicious, inexpensive, healthful and easier than drive-through burgers or ordering a pizza?

Posted at 7:59 PM (permalink) 2 Comments View/Leave Comment Share this post with email Share this post on Facebook Share this post on Twitter Share this post on LinkedIn
Keywords: Jamie Oliver, nutrition


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sugata Mitra on Child-Driven Education

This is a fascinating talk about the learning success  among collaborating students with Internet-connected computers. Check it out.

But one thing we know about learning is that without guidance, you won't see much in the way of accomplishing learning objectives. So, how can we take Mitra's exciting results about unguided learning of something and turn that into exciting results about learning the sorts of things we want students to learn?


Posted at 8:45 PM (permalink) 0 Comments View/Leave Comment Share this post with email Share this post on Facebook Share this post on Twitter Share this post on LinkedIn
Keywords: child-driven education, mitra

  Posts 1 - 4 of 4