I do not know if Eugene Schwartz’ book “How to Double Your Child’s Grades In School” (subtitled “build brilliance and leadership in your child–from Kindergarten to College–in just five minutes per day!”) will ultimately pay off in our guidance of Jason.
But I want to document the most basic aspects of the program, so we can discuss it. To start, I’ll go over my reasoning: WHY I interested, and the decisions I’ve made.
- Dr. John La Tourrette, who has been a successful information marketer for over thirty years of direct observation, suggested Schwartz’s book “Breakthrough Marketing”, saying that he won’t even work with a marketing student who hasn’t read it. High praise indeed.
- The Amazon reviews on “Breakthrough” were amazingly positive.
- “How to Double” was another of Schwartz’s books listed there, and caught my attention. Again, the reviews were glowing.
- What I could determine about the strategic aspect of the book seemed legitimate: solid advice about optimal learning.
- But the “Five Minute” thing is a stopper. I mean, obviously the title is hyperbolic. But then Schwartz is a marketer. Someone screaming “best ice cream in the world!” is just being a salesman. The question is: if everyone walking away from his store has a huge smile and raves about the quality, do I care that he was exaggerating, or do I buy a damned cone and see for myself? I say the latter, if the investment and risk is small enough.
- People in their reviews did indeed say “five minutes a day”. WTF? O.K…I can buy a used copy for under ten bucks, and get a refund if I want one. I trust myself to determine whether the basic ideas are sound–its been a very long time since I fell for a total con game.
- So I bought it, and read the first three chapters carefully and then scanned the rest. Why? Because the first three chapters got me excited. In them, he lays out the basic principles of his program. And while the structural stuff seems solid, it is also stuff I’ve seen before, albeit layed out very carefully, and in a specific sequence. The truth is that SEQUENCE is as important as CONTENT. The “syntax” with which a series of events occur is as important as the nature of the events themselves. (Consider a seduction. Make a deck of index cards, everything from initial introduction to bedroom frolics, in the optimal sequence. Now…could you scramble that deck and still get the same results? Nope. Same thing is true in sales and marketing or storytelling. Same events, different order, different results. So…couldn’t that be true of learning as well?
- The key was the “Five Minutes” a day. In them, you go through seven specific steps EVERY DAY. In a specific order. And the most important thing to me was that the mood was ALWAYS to be kept positive. 100% focus on the student, 100% positive. Five minutes.
- I can look at this, lay it out on the Hero’s Journey, and tell that if this is a legitimate approach, that has massive positive results, THERE WILL BE SETBACKS. There HAVE to be, as the ego fights for its life. So I need to build failure into the system, so that I won’t let my disappointment impact Jason on the days he melts down or rebels or brain-farts.
- The potential: to create a clear emotional space, in which he begins to associate learning with pleasure. Then, the ability to give him a sequence of carefully thought out learning components that build on each other. Ultimately, to teach a SYSTEM OF THOUGHT which will enable him to leverage his mental capacities. The most important component: MAKE LEARNING FUN.
O.K…if I’m right that this is worth investigating, how do I do it? How about 100 days. That’s similar to what I do with “The Machine” for writing, and I’ve used it for martial arts and marketing stuff. Empty my cup, proceed with enthusiasm and faith, believe that I’ve found a killer genius…for 100 days. Then and only then (barring some massive event) do I evaluate the results. Note those results, yes, but don’t make any decisions for 100 days.
Five minutes a day? 500 minutes? About 8 hours for the chance to change my son’s life? Are you kidding me? I’d stand on my HEAD for eight hours to win a chance like that. Screw it. Let’s go.
So…what are the seven things I’m supposed to do every day?
- Focus ALL my attention on him in a clean, neat study space.
- Totally positive energy and praise.
You remember that, right? O.K. Now here’s the first of seven principles. We’re going to look at them, evaluate them, and compile them. I’ve been typing enough. I’ll just give the first principle, and let’s speculate on why, if this is some kind of mega-oh-my-god life changing program (hey! Anything’s possible!) it might be important. This is a direct quote from page 18 of “Double Your Child’s Grades In school”
THE FIRST STEP:
Examine the work he or she is going to turn in the next morning. See that hand-written work is neat and has no misspellings.
O.K.–this seems straightforward. It is the first step in Schwartz’s “Five Minute Achievement Check.” Next step tomorrow.
Here’s a thought: one reader is a schoolteacher, wondering if it would be possible to translate this approach to her classroom.
Let’s assume this DOES work, and ask “why?” and apply the answers to a classroom.
- The positive energy is great. We all want it. Now, parental approval is MASSIVE in a healthy relationship. Hard to duplicate. A teacher can’t do that one-on-one with every student, and if they could it still wouldn’t be that relationship. But I think that it is still valuable: a good teacher educes that “I want her to be happy with me” response. Where else can we get that? How about peer groups? Could we break up the class into partner pairs, and have them do this process for the first ten minutes of school (each taking five minutes)? Considering the power of peer pressure, its possible. The student would not only be the RECIPIENT of positive focus, but when they take their own turn, they are practicing GIVING positive feedback (only! If they wanna be mean, they’ve gotta wait!) but also are imprinting the seven steps into their own minds. There could be a positive result, yes?
Anyway, that’s all I’m saying now. Whew!!! A lot. But I get enthusiastic.
What do you guys think?