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COMMENTARY 933.1: Making Lives

by Michael Josephson on May 22, 2015

in Commentaries, Education, Leadership

Post image for COMMENTARY 933.1: Making Lives

A few years ago I came across a video by a very dynamic speaker, a former middle school teacher named Taylor Mali. He is now what’s called a performance poet — someone who delivers poetry as singers deliver songs. The poem that caught my attention was “What Do I Make?” an articulate and aggressive response to a critic who was putting down teachers. Mr. Mali’s insights inspired me, and with Mr. Mali’s permission I built on the platform of his ideas and concept in my own version I call “Making Lives”:

Making Lives

The topic of education came up and a successful business executive said, “The problem with our education system starts with teachers. What can we expect from people who think teaching is the best way to make a living? Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” A guest protested, “I’ve been a teacher for 20 years, and that’s simplistic and unfair.” “Really?” the executive said. “Then be honest, what do you make?” “I suppose you’re thinking of money,” the teacher replied. “I earn enough, but let me tell you what I make.

“I make children read, think, write, wonder, and talk about important things — such as the world and their role in it.

“I make them appreciate the value of education so they [click to continue…]

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COMMENTARY 932.5: Do I Have to Tell Everything?

May 21, 2015 Commentaries

Should a job applicant properly withhold information about a criminal record or termination from a previous job? Should a woman starting a new relationship say nothing about a previous marriage or abortion? These are problems of candor: When does an ethical person have a duty to reveal negative information about his or her past? First, […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 932.4: Is It Really Only About Winning?

COMMENTARY 932.4: Is It Really Only About Winning?

May 20, 2015 Commentaries

Long ago, I entered law school wanting to do good. I left more concerned with doing well. In an atmosphere dominated by raging competitive instincts, persuasive rationalizations, and real economic pressures, cynicism drowned out idealism. My notion of the legal system as a grand forum for the pursuit of truth and justice was reduced to […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 932.3: The Scorpion and Human Nature

COMMENTARY 932.3: The Scorpion and Human Nature

May 19, 2015 Commentaries

Terry and his dad Glen were walking along the shore and came upon a scorpion struggling in the tide, trying to get back to the sand. Glen tried to scoop the creature up, but the scorpion stung him and fell back into the tide. Glen tried again and was stung again. Terry said, “Dad, leave […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 932.2: How to Change Attitudes and Behavior

COMMENTARY 932.2: How to Change Attitudes and Behavior

May 18, 2015 Commentaries

In yesterday’s commentary, I talked about a teacher named Shavonne who was at wits end with several students, including Leon, whose lack of self-control when he became angry or frustrated constantly created trouble.  She was certain that nothing short of intense therapy could change his behavior. Changing Leon’s behavior will be a challenge, but it […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 932.1: Changing Self-Limiting Beliefs and Bad Behavior

COMMENTARY 932.1: Changing Self-Limiting Beliefs and Bad Behavior

May 15, 2015 Caring, Compassion

Shavonne, a third-grade teacher, was at the end of her rope with disciplinary problems, but she wasn’t enthusiastic when she was told that her school had adopted the CHARACTER COUNTS! program. Now she was expected to explicitly seek to instill and enhance in her students core ethical values like honesty, respect, and responsibility, and to […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 931.5: Living and Reading

COMMENTARY 931.5: Living and Reading

May 14, 2015 Commentaries

One of the most insightful and useful books I’ve ever read is a small volume by Harold Kushner called Living a Life That Matters. Today, I want to suggest ways of getting the most out of books, at least nonfiction books, which is about all I read. Reading shouldn’t be a passive experience. If you […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 931.4: Working Together

COMMENTARY 931.4: Working Together

May 13, 2015 Commentaries

I want to be thin — especially when I’m not hungry. And it seems the President and members of Congress want to work together — especially if they don’t have strong feelings about the issue. I liked President Obama’s call for more civility and greater cooperation, but I’m not convinced it will happen. There’s always […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 931.3: Eight Laws of Leadership

COMMENTARY 931.3: Eight Laws of Leadership

May 12, 2015 Commentaries

Take a look around. Business, education, politics. If there’s one thing we don’t have enough of, it’s good leaders —men and women who have the vision and the ability to change things for the better. Former Air Force General William Cohen wrote a fine book called The Stuff of Heroes in which he identified eight […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 931.2: If You Love Competition, You Never Lose

COMMENTARY 931.2: If You Love Competition, You Never Lose

May 11, 2015 Commentaries

Suppose you’re an Olympic athlete and you hear that the only person who has a chance to beat you is ill and may have to withdraw. Are you overjoyed at your good luck or disappointed that you will not be able to compete against the very best? If you really love and understand sports, you […]

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Thumbnail image for WORTH SEEING: Mother’s Day – Vintage Cards and Images

WORTH SEEING: Mother’s Day – Vintage Cards and Images

May 10, 2015 Worth Seeing
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Thumbnail image for QUOTES: For Mother’s Day: The Best Quotes Ever About Mothers by Michael Josephson

QUOTES: For Mother’s Day: The Best Quotes Ever About Mothers by Michael Josephson

May 9, 2015 Quotes, Observations

We are glad you visited us to find this selection quotes on mothers. The Josephson Institute is a nonprofit organization devoted to increasing the ethical quality of individual and personal decision making.  I hope you’ll browse our other entries and subscribe to our What Will Matter blog at www.whatwillmatter.com (it’s free) and/or our What Will […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 931.1: Seven Truths for Bosses

COMMENTARY 931.1: Seven Truths for Bosses

May 8, 2015 Commentaries

Here are seven truths I’ve discovered in my struggles to be an effective boss:  It’s not what you say that matters; it’s what people hear. Just because you said it doesn’t mean they heard it. Just because you wrote it doesn’t mean they read it. Be sure your message is received and understood.  There are lots […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY: 930.5: How to Succeed by Failing Forward – Turning Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones

COMMENTARY: 930.5: How to Succeed by Failing Forward – Turning Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones

May 7, 2015 Commentaries

The best way to teach our children to succeed is to teach them to fail. After all, if getting everything you want on the first try is success, and everything else is failure, we all fail much more often than we succeed. People who learn how to grow from unsuccessful efforts succeed more often and […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 930.4: Five Birds and Good Intentions

COMMENTARY 930.4: Five Birds and Good Intentions

May 6, 2015 Commentaries

Five birds are sitting on a telephone wire. Two decide to fly south. How many are left? Most people would say three. Actually, all five are left. You see, deciding to fly isn’t the same as doing it. If a bird really wants to go somewhere, it’s got to point itself in the right direction, […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 930.3: Doing Sports Right

COMMENTARY 930.3: Doing Sports Right

May 5, 2015 Commentaries

When I was a kid playing sports, there were no clubs, travel teams, or private coaches. Except for summer baseball leagues, the primary place to play was high school. When I was in the 10th grade, I wanted to play basketball in the worst way. Unfortunately, given my size and talent, that’s how I played. […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 930.2: The Yuppie Lifestyle and Satisfaction

COMMENTARY 930.2: The Yuppie Lifestyle and Satisfaction

May 4, 2015 Commentaries

T.S. Eliot said, “Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They do not mean to do harm … they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” How do we feel important? Often, it’s by trying to obtain an image […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 930.1: Do a Little More

COMMENTARY 930.1: Do a Little More

May 1, 2015 Commentaries

In 1964, a young woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death outside her apartment building in Queens, New York. She was attacked repeatedly over the course of an hour and despite her screams, none of the 38 neighbors intervened or called for help. Some were afraid. Some didn’t want to get involved. Some thought […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 929.5:  Fixing Toxic Relationships

COMMENTARY 929.5: Fixing Toxic Relationships

April 30, 2015 Commentaries

Are there people in your life who regularly cause you to feel bad about yourself? Most of us care what others think of us, so knowing that someone doesn’t like or approve of the judgments we’ve made or how we look can be hurtful. And when we’re judged by someone whose approval we crave, such […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 929.3: The Illusion of Success

COMMENTARY 929.3: The Illusion of Success

April 29, 2015 Commentaries

Reach for the stars. Pursue goals beyond your grasp. These are good life strategies. We never know how much we can accomplish until we try. But what happens when we’re told we must reach the stars or suffer consequences? A common workplace strategy to spur employee achievement is to set aggressive productivity objectives that, like […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 929.4: Getting Started

COMMENTARY 929.4: Getting Started

April 29, 2015 Commentaries

Chris’s parents were proud of him when he graduated from college. But it’s been six months and he hasn’t gotten a job yet. In fact, he hasn’t looked seriously. He has no idea what he wants to do and he’s thinking of grad school. He’s living at home with his parents and things are getting […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 929.1: Blessing or Curse?

COMMENTARY 929.1: Blessing or Curse?

April 28, 2015 Choices

A man and his companion lost their way in a forest. The companion despaired, but the man said maybe some good would come of it. They came upon a stranger who needed the man’s help. The stranger turned out to be a prince who gave the man a beautiful horse. His neighbors praised his good […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 929.2: Controlling the Weather

COMMENTARY 929.2: Controlling the Weather

April 28, 2015 Attitude

While teachers can have a lifelong effect on the way students think, psychologist Haim Ginott has focused on a more immediate aspect of impact: the creation of a positive or negative physical and emotional environment that can determine the quality of a child’s life. “I’ve come to a frightening conclusion,” he said. “I am the […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 928.5: The TEAM Approach to Teaching Character

COMMENTARY 928.5: The TEAM Approach to Teaching Character

April 23, 2015 Commentaries

I want my kids to be smart and successful, but I also want them to be good. I want them to be the kind of people other parents would like to see their kids marry. I also want them to make sound, values-based decisions that will help them be safe and happy. So, like most […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 928.2: Family Values

COMMENTARY 928.2: Family Values

April 20, 2015 Commentaries

Our values — the core beliefs that drive behavior — determine our character, our ethics and our potential. Thus, the most important thing we can do for our children is to stimulate them to develop positive values that will help them become wise, happy and good. This is no simple matter. The first step is […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 928.1: Who Am I to Judge? – The Ethics of Moral Judgments

COMMENTARY 928.1: Who Am I to Judge? – The Ethics of Moral Judgments

April 17, 2015 Commentaries

Almost every week someone indignantly attacks my integrity because I offended them with a real or perceived opinion they didn’t like. The underlying assumption is that stating an opinion on any controversial matter violates the sacred duty of neutrality. First, I’m a teacher and a commentator, not a judge or journalist. Although I strive mightily […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 927.5: Appreciating Appreciation

COMMENTARY 927.5: Appreciating Appreciation

April 16, 2015 Commentaries

There’s a song called “Thank God for Dirty Dishes” that makes the point that if you’re lucky to have enough food to make dirty dishes, you should be grateful. So instead of grousing about your property taxes, be thankful you own property. When you have to wait in line at the bank or are stuck […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 927.4: Teaching Our Children to Be Better Than Us

COMMENTARY 927.4: Teaching Our Children to Be Better Than Us

April 15, 2015 Commentaries

Do parents have moral standing to impose standards on their children that they themselves did not follow when they were kids? Is it ever ethical for parents to lie to a child about their youthful experiences? These are important questions because it’s a parent’s duty to teach, enforce, advocate and model good behavior for their […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 926.5: What Do You Want to See More of and Less of?

COMMENTARY 926.5: What Do You Want to See More of and Less of?

April 9, 2015 Commentaries

Inspirational author and speaker Stephen Covey once said, “Start with the end in mind.” So whenever a company wants to launch an ethics initiative, we at Josephson Institute use a simple exercise: “Look at your organization today – its managers, line employees, and customers – and list behaviors and attitudes you’d like to see more […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 926.3: Learning and Believing

COMMENTARY 926.3: Learning and Believing

April 7, 2015 Commentaries

One of the marks of our species is our limitless capacity to learn. Sometimes we learn how to do something we’ve never done before. Sometimes we learn facts about the world, about other people, and about ourselves. These sorts of things make us smarter and more skillful. But what’s really important are the things that […]

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