Seth Godin writes:
The math of favors
One of three things is going on in your head when you're entering into a transaction of any kind:
(1) I'm doing you a favor, bud
(2) Hey, this guy is doing me a favor
(3) This is a favorless transaction
How do teachers and kids interact? Who is doing the favor?
A teacher who is putting in a ton of hours -- who is sacrificing and going above and beyond the call of duty -- of course you think you are doing the kids favor. All those before and after school help sessions? The nighttime phone calls to "check in"? The Sunday where you log 6 hours at a Starbucks just to dig out and prepare for the week?
Meanwhile, what about a kid who simply does not want to learn the stuff you are teaching. Does not want to learn math. Doesn't buy the "need it for life, for college" reasoning. Finds it immensely frustrating. Even to pay attention, that kid thinks she is doing the teacher a favor -- just to try in class, take notes, do some homework.
Seth describes that situation in business:
The disconnect happens when one party in the transaction thinks he's doing the other guy a favor... but the other guy doesn't act that way in return. In fact, when both sides think they're doing the other a favor, it's a meltdown. (The flipside, on the other hand, is great--when both sides act as if the other guy is doing them a favor.)
Hmm. Does that describe a lot of schools? Two sides, each thinking they're doing the other a favor?
Seth has advice. Applies to both any individual teacher and any individual kid.
The shortcut to success is this: why not always act as if the other guy is doing the favor?