I hope you apply this talk to your parenting, which includes your own life.
First, since children imitate us from birth, we parents need to focus on being growth models for them, which hopefully minimizes our authority role.
Further, since children’s minds don’t think logically until age 11, they learn to listen to our hearts, not our words.
I painfully learned this from an episode when my 9 year old son’s lie about giving a friend my old watch made his friend look like a thief. I was thunderstruck—how could he do that to a friend?
But eventually I realized, if we were going to take credit for our wonderful son, how can we not also take credit for his dishonesty?
So I searched for the dishonesty within myself and found it: I had always said to Mal “I don’t care what you do, as long it’s your best.” He had read my heart and knew it was a lie—no matter what I said, inwardly, I did care how well he did!
It took time to change myself so my heart matched my words, but once I did, his lying went away.
Beyond being growth models, we parents also need to heed Kahlil Gibran’s wisdom, “Your children are not your children; they are the sons and daughters of life longing for itself… You can give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts…”
Gibran is guiding us to a unique and powerful relationship with children—we parents become very special mentors who help children realize their unique potential and destiny—leading to the ultimate human relationship that will last the child’s lifetime.
So the focus this weekend is Conscience, which seeks to help you become that living parenting model , both for your children and yourself. One of the Five Hyde Principles, the expression of conscience in our lives basically measures the depth of Hyde in our lives.
Conscience is generally perceived as that little voice that tells us right from wrong. But Hyde has a much larger perception of conscience.
Traditional education and society focuses on our outer or public self, emphasizing knowledge and achievement. This encourages our ego self to control our lives. This control easily blinds us to our deeper and more subconscious self, which is led by conscience.
However Hyde was built on the premise that each of us is gifted with a unique potential that defines a destiny. This reverses the emphasis on our ego self to our inner or private self, thus opening ourselves to our deeper spiritual potentials, particularly conscience.
This deeper inner search, involving personal struggles and challenges as well as a realization of our deeper personal s1trengths, brings a new reality and confidence to our hopes, dreams and vision.
This deeper personal development makes us aware of the power of our more spiritual subconscious, and how critically it helps us realize our unique potential and true best.
This work leads to the Hyde definition of conscience: “The compass of our destiny.” We and our egos lead our lives on a daily basis, but our conscience understands the overall direction of our destiny.
I fortunately am an inner growth person and very grateful my conscience/spiritual self has dramatically redirected my life three major times; one leading to the founding of Hyde.
After working hard to achieve excellence as a teacher, coach, administrator, I went to the New Year’s Eve party in 1962 eager to celebrate, knowing I would soon gain a headmastership.
But at the party, my smile became fixed; I tried hard to be sociable. Finally I couldn’t take it and left. I ended sitting on a dark, empty stage, bawling, having absolutely no idea why I was crying.
Today I realize I was experiencing a vital process: first expending my intellectual and emotional potentials, leaving me open to my spiritual potentials, namely conscience—and thus this spiritual conversation with myself:
I realized I didn’t believe in what I was doing—there had to be a better way to help kids prepare for life. Once you know the truth, you can’t un-know it—I was letting go of what I had.
Next I realized it wasn’t just wrong for my students; it was wrong for students everywhere. I could never again distinguish between “their kids and our kids.”
A deep helplessness came over me. What could some teacher stuck in the boondocks do about it?
But if it wasn’t my responsibility, just whose was it? I shuddered as I realized—I just got tagged “it” in a giant game of tag. I got up and went back to the party. I knew my life was changed forever.
That was 54 years ago. I was clueless then on how to find a better way for kids, but I following that conscience discussion to the letter has given me a life beyond belief.
Our society has yet to effectively deal with what led to my crisis of conscience in 1962: our educational system fails to respect the unique potential of each student and the childhood development required to realize it in life.
Realize that statement doesn’t just apply to your children’s generation, it applies to yours and every generation since WWII.
Think back upon your own life. How well are you connected to your deepest self? How many moments have you had when you listened to and followed something deep within you, more on faith than reason? How much does your ego control your life? Has your conscience changed your life at any point?
Please recognize the incredible power of your deeper subconscious spiritual self. Consider this example: two groups of people were given complex information to select the best buys of 6 houses. After working on it group A was suddenly given a different project for two hours, while group B was allowed to continue to work on it. Then the groups submitted their selections. Group A greatly outperformed group B. Why? The two hour break allowed group A to put their subconscious powers to work, while group B was still stuck trying to solve it in their heads.
Intuition and insight often play critical roles in how I see things. When I have a difficult decision or problem, I like to sleep on it.
So by failing to address this deeper development in students, our educational system is failing its citizens, which includes both you and your children.
I chose the unique potential principle for Hyde because it reflected America’s founding principles. Do you have confidence and faith that your life is being generated by your unique potential, and that your path in life reflects your destiny? Is it strong enough to inspire your children?
The great things that happen in this world seem created by those who listen to something deep within themselves. 60 Minutes recently featured a Turkish immigrant who, with absolutely nothing, found a bankrupt factory, and in ten years, his Greek Yogurt Chobani is the world’s #1 best seller.
Today, changing education to respect the unique potential and character growth of children may only seem a Joey or Hyde concern. But I believe a student revolution has already begun to right this wrong.
Education centered on the acquisition of knowledge has always made schooling dependent on adults, who in turn emphasize skills and the preparation—literacy and jobs—they believe best to set up youth for life.
So schools cater to adult skills and knowledge, challenging students to work hard to earn their adult status. As a Job Corps student once bitterly described her teachers’ attitude: “I got it; you got to get it.”
Critics of this adult-centered education have always existed, perhaps beginning with Socrates’ contrary “Know Thyself” emphasis that sought to center education on the individual growth needs of students.
Child psychologists and many others working closely with children believe children experience a natural growth process that this adult-centered education largely ignores. For example, Jean Piaget outlines four growth stages for children: first focused on trust, then on inner development, followed by outer development. In the 4th stage at age 11, children finally become capable of logical and abstract thought.
Clearly a knowledge-centered curriculum would neither fit their intellectual development nor serve their extensive emotional and character developmental needs.
But no matter how correct Piaget and others may be about the true educational needs of children, society overwhelmingly accepts the present knowledge-based system of teaching and learning.
However for some time now, I believe we’ve been in the early stages of a student rebellion that will ultimately revolutionize this adult knowledge based system.
I saw the earliest signs in 1982, visiting The Martin Luther King Elementary School in Washington, DC. I was looking at a thing called computer, with a first grader explaining to me, a school founder, how it worked. Now that’s a revolutionary exchange!
For centuries, students have been dependent upon what was in adult heads; they had to listen and do what adults told them to do. But now students have a thing in front of them that they have to tell what to do!
Suddenly, students are using potentials seldom (if ever) used before.
Now, 35 years later, if I have a problem with my tech stuff, I often simply ask a nearby student for help.
The new knowledge base is the internet. Students found it very useful in their personal lives and now know it far better than adults.
While it doesn’t replace adults, it will eventually end student dependency on adult knowledge. If you find kids today less respectful of adults, consider it reflects an internet shift of authority from adults to student.
Suppose I’m right about the student revolution; how do we handle it?
If students are not that dependent upon adult knowledge, then the primary adult focus should shift to life experience. Teachers and parents can provide students with a living model of someone who struggles, accepts challenges and develops strengths.
Students can identify with these adult models, and further learn from and be inspired by them. This brings a meaningful reality to students’ lives and elevates the adult to becoming a mentor.
Once parents are able to parent by example, they enable themselves to play a much stronger role in raising their children.
Children have two deep, largely subconscious needs: someone to help them realize their best and to help them achieve self-sufficiency.
Once parents are able to share their lives with their children, a deeper bond of trust allows them to take a more active role in helping their children realize their best and self-sufficiency. It bonds them for life.
This weekend, I have asked the students to step beyond being children, accept being the pre-adults they truly are, and take meaningful leadership roles in making the family more honest, trusting and effective.
I hope you as parents become more open living examples for your children to follow, reflecting more Gibran’s wisdom, and particularly trying to lead your families from your spiritual potentials and conscience.
I hope you all have a very meaningful weekend. Good luck!
Joe Gauld; Founder of Hyde Schools