Believe it or not, I’m a peaceful guy. I have some rather strong opinions and people believe that’s belligerence, but it’s really not. It’s just the honest truth. Yet I’ve always found myself thinking much the way a war strategist does. I detach myself from my own feelings about a certain situation and put myself into the mind frame of the other person. It’s a survival technique I’ve learned to hone since I started my second year of teaching.
I think the master mentality came right after I had an issue with a certain administrator regarding bulletin boards. I got frustrated, mad, tired, angered, bitter, pissed, and not so good at all once. It’s something that every teacher who’s got an ounce of rebellion in them has to go through, so I calmed down a bit. Some people turn to a poem, a quote, or some advice from an elder teacher. I turned to Robert Greene.
Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power (one of my favorite books ever) helped me hone in on the issues within and outside of my classroom. I read it before for leisure, but in the context of the conflict I was having with said administrator, I took down every law of power that I thought would get me through my day. Some of them, I apply rather often, and some I need to remind myself to do.
On the back of my grade book, I have this sheet with the following laws:
Daily Laws of Power (In The Classroom)
Law 3: Conceal your Intentions
Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary
Law 5: So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard it with your Life
Law 9: Win through your Actions, Never through Argument
Law 13: When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to their Mercy or Gratitude
Law 17: Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability
Law 27: Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following
Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness
Law 29: Plan All the Way to the End
Law 30: Make your Accomplishments Seem Effortless
Law 31: Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards you Deal
Law 34: Be Royal in your Own Fashion: Act like a King to be treated like one
Law 35: Master the Art of Timing
Law 36: Disdain Things You Cannot Have; Ignoring Them Is The Best Revenge
Law 44: Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect
The ones I already did on a daily basis:
#3, 4, 9, 27, 30, 33
The other ones I didn’t do as well on, and I felt I needed to work on. A lot of these seem rather callous, but if looked at in the proper perspective, they can be rather useful in a classroom setting, especially dealing with peers. For instance, #34 is exactly what we’re told to do from day 1. Teachers have no business acting like the kids’ friends or their equal for at least 7-8 months, if ever. When a teacher does that, they’re often the ones with the craziest classroom. #35 is the “workshop model” (i.e. we have to beware of the timing in our lesson plans, but also in our responses to our kids).
Now, in preparation for the next challenge in becoming a master teacher, I turn back to these laws, and get back into that perspective. Some in my field might call it ridiculous, but I choose to call it avant-garde. Much of the relationships we have in the educational setting have scary similarities to politics, corporate or otherwise. With the direction schools have headed in for the last 15-20 years of (at least) my lifetime, understanding these laws might even help teachers survive this concrete jungle.
jose, who has more on rebellion soon