Thursday, February 14, 2013

Teacher Thoughts on Dan Pink: To Sell Is Human Part 1

I am reading Daniel Pink, To Sell Is Human. As I read I have marked down some passages that I think are worth discussing. I am trying to read this book from the mindset of an educator and coach. As I read I am trying to figure out ways in which his ideas can be applied to teaching and coaching. I will do my best to explain my thoughts, questions, insights, etc. the best I can in hopes that it creates some dialogue to pursue further.

I will admit that at first I was not really digging the book. I have read his other books and loved them! This one did not quite grab me at first. However, when I started to look at the stories, examples, and ideas through the lens of education it really changed things and I really found the book to be powerful.

For example, there is a passage about the shifting of knowledge. He uses the examples of car salesman and how times have changed. The buyer now has the information up front and online and can come to the dealership with more information than the salesman.  Dan Pink states that today the salesman is no longer the source of information, but they have become "curators and clarifiers of it." They go on to add that today they need to have empathy and make the customer feel like you care.

Think about that in education........

As teachers we are no longer needed to be the know it all source of information. This is not a new idea. The teacher no longer needs be the master of the domain. Rather, it is our job to help curate the information, help students process and understand all the facts and data that are now currently available to students, and figure out what to do with it all. I like to envision us as puzzle masters. We see the big picture as teachers. The students see all the pieces scattered. It is our job to help guide, teach, mentor the students to figure out how to place all the pieces so that they can see the big picture as well.

And how do we do that? Empathy

We have to care. We have to have a passion for teaching. Not just a passion for our subject area, but a passion for helping kids see what we see. Not every student wants this. I hate to admit it, but some just flat out will never care. That does not mean that we don't care as professionals. Rather, we have to understand that we cannot reach every students. That is why students to travel to 8-10 teachers a day and see new teachers each year. All it takes is for one person to get through. It may not be me. It may not be you, but unless we all try who knows what doors can be unlocked.

My favorite line from this particular chapter and passage comes from one of the salespeople used to tell a story. She says, "You can't train someone to care." Either you care or you don't. It is that simple. I see this every single day as a teacher. I see it every basketball season as a coach. No matter what you say or do, some people will never care. We as teachers have to care. If we don't care and don't have empathy, then someone needs to remove us from this field of work. This job requires a passion and burning desire to challenge ourselves so that we can challenge our students.
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