Thinking Citizen Blog — The Moccasin Test and the “Family Box” — How to Close Achievement Gaps (Part I)

Thinking Citizen Blog — Saturday is Justice, Freedom, Law, and Values Day

Today’s Topic: The Moccasin Test and the “Family Box” — How to Close Achievement Gaps (Part One)

The key to success in life is attitude. An “I can” attitude is a winner. An “I can’t” attitude is a recipe for losing. The key to closing any and all achievement gaps is figuring out how to package a set of mnemonics that can help parents and and their children nurture in each other that reasonably simple but reasonably complete set of attitudes that are the keys to a a joyful, productive, and responsible life. In recent posts, I have argued that the constellation Orion and your right and left hands are two of the most powerful memory tools. For years I have argued for harnessing the blue sky, white clouds, and the green of plants (grass and the canopies of trees) as metaphors for gratitude, truth, and kindness respectively. These “attitude packages’ would be the contents of one of the compartments in the “baby box” or “family box” that every child born in America would get if my quixotic vision (inspired by the Finnish “baby box” program recently adopted in New Jersey) are ever realized.

This post expands on this theme based on the principle that continuity is key to depth of thought. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH THE EYES OF THE OTHER — useful skill

1. The earlier you start the better. Remember the Heckman curve? Age at intervention and return on investment are inversely correlated.

2. Practice affirming the feelings of the other party.

3. Out loud.

NB: With a tone and at a volume that shows respect. Tough? Impossible? So is playing a three of five set tennis match or playing the Moonlight Sonata. The sooner you start practicing the better. And, of course, that goes for parents too.

THE STRENGTH TO BE GRATEFUL AND KIND

1. Gratitude is hard work.

2. Especially when bad stuff happens — or people are mean to you.

3. Or you just wake up in a bad mood.

NB: Real strength, real power, the super power of super powers is the ability to control the at times overwhelming feelings of anger, jealousy, and hate. Thomas Jefferson recommended counting to 10 any time you are angry and to 100 if you are really angry. He was on the right track.

FAKING IT TO MAKE IT — THE POWER OF THE IMAGINATION

1. Athletic coaches know the power of visualization — the power of improving your ability to do something by visualizing yourself doing something perfectly — whether the perfect free throw or the perfect serve.

2. The imagination is a muscle. Like any tool, it can be used for good or ill.

3. Harness it for gratitude, kindness, and courage.

NB: Model that in your own life. Let’s work together to figure out how best to package this story into a reasonably simple, reasonably complete set of items for the “family box” of the future.

A LINK TO THE LAST THREE YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

YOUR TURN

Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to justice, freedom, the law or basic values. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to justice, freedom, the law, or basic values. Or just some random justice-related fact that blew you away.

This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart.

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