Re: DSM: RE: personal observations regarding praise and encouragement

John Axtell (
Sun, 31 Dec 2000 16:29:42 -0800


Why on earth would you be offended because a teenager in your company choses to conclude that
their mother is white trash? Are you offended because the teenager thinks or because you do not
agree with her evaluation ?

I would think that if you wanted to educate yourself you might have asked her to explain how she
reached her conclusion ? Both of you may have learned something and you may have reached the
same conclusion that she has.

I spend lots of time associating with people whose opinions I strongly disagree with but say
nothing. Unless they ask for my opinon or it is a group such as this one.

John Axtell

Susan Jarquin wrote:

> Greetings,
> Is it appropriate to discuss issues that are on the other side? For instance, I spent
> time one day with some teenagers driving them to a Rock Concert. The one girl, a pretty good
> friend of my daughters, stated that her mother was White Trash, because she enjoyed pottery.
> I do not personally know the mother.
> I have had personal situations of being the only white person in a room and listening to
> people talk about all white people as White Trash. I finally reached a point where I had to
> start making a statement that this offended me personally. I just say something like this:
> Since I am a white person and I enjoyed living in a trailer park as a teenager, it would
> probably be appropriate for me to exclude myself from this conversation and walk away.
> So when the girl made this statement, it was my natural reaction to speak with her about
> my negative feelings about her statement. So, was I trying to discourage her from making
> those statements? The interesting thing is that my daughters friends are all frightened of
> me. (Public Schooled Children) However, when they have a problem they call my daughter and
> ask for my advise. Maybe it's my willingness to share my honest opinion with them.
> What is the Heartlight group?
> Susan
> David Rovner wrote:
> > Concerning praise and encouragement, what can be more instructive than looking at
> > Evaluation -- Free at last.
> > I wish to direct your attention -- as a "thinking material" (chomer lemachshaba, in
> > Hebrew) -- to Evaluation, Free at last -- Sudbury Valley School, by Daniel Greenberg,
> > If we are already talking about the subject, I'm sure you'll agree with me that this
> > material gives an excellent perspective on the subject:
> >
> > [following I bring relevant excerpts (emphasis is mine.- D.R.)]:
> > "One day I was playing catch with a six year old. Each time he threw, and each
> > time he tried to catch, I "encouraged" him: "Good Job"; "Nice throw"; "Great try."
> > Suddenly, he threw the ball at me angrily and shouted, "I don't want to play with you
> > any more. Your'e lying. I threw terribly; it wasn't at all good, and your'e a big faker."
> > Of course he was right. And I was wrong. It was another valuable lesson for me
> > at school . . ."
> > ". . . At the heart of Sudbury Valley is the policy that we don't rate people. We
> > don't compare them to each other, or to some standard we have set. For us, such an
> > The school is not a judge. . ."
> > ". . . And what we gain at school, as a bonus from our no-grading and no-rating
> > policy, is an atmosphere free of competition among students or battles for adult
> > approval. At Sudbury Valley, people help each other all the time. They have no reason
> > not to."
> >
> > A child is not a cat, and dealing with children is not animal-training/taming, even
> > though public schools and governments, ALL OF THEM, and a lot of parents, think
> > they are allowed everything, including indoctrination (#@%&) ! !
> > David
> >
> > ---------- Original Message ----------
> >
> > What fun. I enjoy all the thoughtful remarks from the Heartlight group
> > regarding encouragement. Made me think.
> >
> > When I worked with retarded adults we scheduled and counted our encouraging
> > remarks. They were not sincere always, but at least we were beginning to
> > take notice of our own behaviors as we made a point of noticing their
> > behaviors.
> >
> > More recently, with children, I consider whether to give praise 1) when the
> > child seems to come looking for it, and 2) when I am genuinely delighted and
> > wish to voice my interest. It seems these two forms of praise are how most
> > adults treat other adults.
> >
> > My cat gets tons of praise. I wanted to take responsibility for the quality
> > of life I create for myself and the cat. So I considered that being
> > unresponsive in the cat's presence modeled arrogance and disdain. Being
> > aloof in the cat's presence affected both of us. I decided that the cat's
> > presence was a prompt for me to undo my heart of arrogance and disdain. I
> > began telling the cat she is appreciated and beautiful, and thanked her for
> > kind gestures (cat style hugs and kisses). She learned to reply when I
> > asked, "are you hungry?" and she gets her favorite catfood. When scratching
> > my favorite chair she gets roughed up playfully. Now she uses my favorite
> > chair to ask for play (not ideal, but its my own doing). So she has control
> > of food, play, and also asking for a door or window to be opened. The
> > results of all this are 1) a sense lightness and honor in a relationship of
> > mutual respect, 2) enhancement of my self-appreciation as an effect on
> > others, 3) enhancement of the cat's ability to get needs met in a human
> > environment, 4) the odd assortment of comments people make about an
> > extraordinary cat when they visit my house, 5) a sense of obligation to take
> > time for encouragement when this seems a distraction from my personal time
> > (but the distraction is probably time well spent).
> >
> > My behavior regarding encouragement is being shaped over the years. It has
> > gone from rather condescending comments of flattery for my own benefit, to
> > praise in behalf of others for the sake of our relationship, to sincere
> > heartfelt responses for an intuited higher good. And this intuition is
> > evolving as I reconsider my perception in light of Joseph Pearce's comments
> > on studies of human development.
> >
> > It is looking as though ideal encouragement is a mother's 100% attention to
> > an infant without any tension. Ideal encouragement is a safe,
> > free-to-adventure environment that expands with the child's abilities, with
> > a few safety and personal respect boundries, but no judgements, no anger, no
> > value system imposed (love and adventure are the only values, and, these are
> > for the sake of human development as an inborn value, Godsent if you will).
> > Ideal encouragement is adults welcoming a child into their environment as
> > 100% play, and children welcoming adults into their play as equals. No
> > judgements, no values, just imagination and adventure. Again the adventure
> > expands as ability expands. Ideal encouragement is the playful way adults
> > learned in childhood to go about tasks with enthusiam and cooperation, and
> > so they share this with others at a job or in the community, and at home
> > with their children. It is about love. Fight or flight never gets developed
> > as a way of life. In its place are models who demonstrate the functionality
> > of empathy, honesty, creativity and following your joy.
> >
> > Did you see Robin Williams in Jack? The movie was on tv tonight. Robin plays
> > a kid who grows too fast into an adult body. I enjoyed the contrast between
> > the children's love of adventure and the adults' love of value judgements.
> >
> > (It isn't that values don't develop, but because we choose not to value what
> > does not work, fight-flight as a value system does not develop. What does
> > develop is open to what does work better and better.)
> >
> > The other day it was as if the cat noticed my lack of ability to mimic her
> > growl, so she changed her voice to mimic my deep rumbling vocalization. I
> > was totally flattered.
> >
> > robert
> >
> > on 12/20/00 10:04 PM, at
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Hello all,
> > > I guess I'm "old school" afterall. After reading the conversations and
> > > opinions regarding praise and encouragement, I made some personal
> > > observations at my school.
> > > I have numerous students visiting me in my classroom throughout the day,
> > > just to sit and "gab." I found that I have the habit of finding something
> > > nice to say about them, either something I saw them do or heard them say that
> > > was "good." Their overall behaviors always improve in my classes, their self
> > > esteem is demonstrably improved, and their undesirable negative behaviors
> > > disolve.
> > > My boss's 2 year old son was in a room with a single, well carpeted
> > > step. He jumped it! I said "Wow, you're a good jumper!" He joyfully jumped
> > > it at least a dozen more times while I talked with his father. At the end of
> > > our short conversation, I said loudly to his father, "Your son is really good
> > > at jumping!" The little guy started jumping like a gazelle, back and forth,
> > > back and forth, smiling the whole time. I couldn't help myself, it just came
> > > out of my mouth. We all enjoyed it.
> > > I noticed the frequency of praise and encouragement I shared throughout
> > > the day. It pleased me to do so. It pleased the children to hear it. I
> > > have a great relationship with my students. The "troubled teens" come into
> > > class and do well in a way that is enjoyable for all. Then they graduate and
> > > successfully go on to high school, college and careers.
> > > When I stopped to put gas in my car, the clerk smiled and commented on my
> > > outfit looking nice. I want to be dressed nice when I go there next time. I
> > > want to get gas there again.
> > > Many of you consider these things negative external behavior
> > > manipulations. I consider them... pleasurable. They work, easily.
> > > What are the results of your focus on intrinsic self satisfaction? I'm
> > > really having a hard time trying to understand how my silence would have had
> > > the success rate my caring created.
> > > Marlene

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