Success Laminated Poster
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To a people whose massive agricultural expansion proceeded apace with the acquisition of Texas and California and who yet at the same time accelerated the process of shifting from an agrarian to an industrial footing, books on success were no more than mirrors held up to nature. The success literature of the 1850's established a popularity which has since persisted. Indeed, success books have constituted "perhaps the most flourishing of all branches of American literature."
This popularity, however, is not the principal reason why the literature of success deserves attention. The primary significance of books entitled There's Plenty of Room at the Top or Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Americans is that they distill a scheme of values, a conception of the world, a way of life, which has in varying degrees been shared by the great bulk of the American people for over a century. Such books are the conscious, explicit rendition of that shadowy cultural mythology -- the mythology of success -- which permeates the American imagination.
Ask Laminated Poster
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When we learn naturally, we start by developing an interest in what we are learning about. We try things out and get hands-on experience. We suffer expectation failures and we ask questions. Schools are not built around steps such as these. Instead, they try to cut to the chase. They rush to present answers to questions students have not asked and generalizations about experiences students have not had.
Schools today are based on the underlying assumption that students should learn answers. This commonsensical assumption is wrong. Students should instead learn how to ask questions and pursue their own answers.
Much of the current system is oriented around giving students answers. If we only care that students know some fact, then it's fine for us to simply give it to them at some point when they are ready to hear it. Any parent will tell you that one of the most annoying habits young children have is their penchant for the "Why Game." In this game, the child observes something and demands that the parent explain it. "Why is the sky blue?" is the classic example. But more bizarre questions often pop up, such as "Why doesn't the week start with the weekend?" or "How does my brain know what my name is?"
These questions are irritating not only because they are time-consuming, but also because they often show us the limits of what we ourselves know. We don't like being reduced to the answer "Just because." Nonetheless, we encourage our children to ask such questions because we realize that they help to develop intelligence and curiosity.
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It is usually the winner that gets the attention and becomes the center of focus. Whatever he or she does or says becomes our model and these descriptions are frequently on a personal psychological level. Although we may admire and respect talent, our personal opinion of the winner becomes, in our mind, the reason the winners are able to manifest their talent.
Another assumption that we make is that to be a winner you have to be a "good guy." In all of our folklore it is always the clean-cut, wholesome American kid who finally comes through in the end. We cannot conceive of a "bad guy" being a winner. Somehow that picture, that image, destroys our illusions. In order to keep the picture complete and in line with mythology, the winners can only be good. By the same token, losers must be bad. They must be tainted in some way or have some flaw that keeps them from attaining the Holy Grail (otherwise known as the Stanley Cup or the Super Bowl Trophy). We cannot think that a team or player can be corrupt or dirty and, we cannot even entertain the thought that accepted behavior within some sports may be corrupt or destructive.
So we devise terms to describe our heroes and heroines and place them on pedestals so they may act as models. We develop a whole new jock vocabulary that incorporates all of the cultural values. We then point out how these values are crystallized in sports. Our winning athletes are courageous, loyal, competitive, dedicated, fierce, determined, aggressive, team persons, tough-minded, psyched-up, motivated, and so forth. Not only that, they give 110%, they never say die, play with pain, or give till it hurts. Winning athletes are a cross between Superman, the Bionic Man and the Boy Scout Oath. These simple one-word descriptions are fortified with locker rooms filled with slogans that further describe the winner. We all know that "Winners never quit, and quitters never win." Leo Durocher expression that went something like, "You show me a good loser and I'll show you a real loser." Perhaps the two most famous of the expressions came from leaders of this country. Richard Nixon had on his desk the old favorite, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going," and, of course, there is Vince Lombardi's dictum, "Winning isn't everything--it's the only thing."
Individuality Mini Poster
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The ways in which people differ from one another may be grouped under four headings: (1) anatomical, (2) physiological, (3) biochemical, and (4) psychological. Never in the history of science and human thought, to the best of my knowledge, has anyone ever made a serious attempt to look at these differences specifically or to gain an over-all view of them. In this relatively short discussion it will not be possible to do more than present briefly a few of the outstanding findings, including some references for those who wish to explore the subject farther.
Physiological individuality is exhibited to a marked degree no matter what area we consider. In that of the senses, for example--seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, the sense of touch, etc.--striking evidence of individuality can be found wherever we look. Let us consider the sense of taste.
Like other important attributes of our character and civilization, individuality or individualism is an outgrowth of many forces. More specifically, and rather obviously, it is a product of inheritance and environment--the experience of Europe and the hope of America. It is, of course, beyond the scope of this paper, or the ability of its author, to trace through all history the conflict between the demands of society and the urgings of individuality. Something of this conflict has probably always affected human personality, but individuality as it has developed in the United States goes back most directly to English history and experience.
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Different people in a work group sometimes divide the labor on task and maintenance functions. This normally appears to be an informal development; occasionally it is a deliberate strategy designed to overcome personality or technical-task shortcomings, or to compensate for work overload on a manager. While such a division of leadership responsibility can work, groups characterized by above average performance and employee satisfaction are more often than not managed by someone who initiates structure and clearly states what needs to be done and who, at the same time, is sensitive to the emotional side of group life. Jury-rigged leadership sharing arrangements, often observed in professional and office clerical settings, will not maximize teamwork.
The teamwork stage describes a group's condition when it "jells." Teamwork reflects the group's early task successes and the development of positive interpersonal relationships, which encourage the group and build its confidence. All of this provides reinforcement or reward value, and enhances the group's desire for further success if the experience was challenging. The same processes that were getting underway in the prior learning stage gain momentum in this stage. To list a few:
Performance standards continue to develop and probably increase
Group shared norms and attitudes solidify and a unique vocabulary characteristic of the group becomes evident;
Individual and coordinated task expertise approach a peak, and the task-role structure stabilizes;
Teamwork and willingness to help each other are characteristic patterns;
Group processes experimented with and developed earlier for allocating resources, resolving interpersonal conflict, disciplining members and dealing with the larger organizational environment, function smoothly with the full support of most group members; and
A clear, group-shared idea emerges on "who we are and where we are going."