'happy holidays!' photo (c) 2009, melissa brawner - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Here are three Holiday Gifts To Readers (that I give every year!):

First, He understood not only what we did but what we were supposed to do is from The Los Angeles Times, and I think it’s the best newspaper story ever written about Christmas.

Second, here’s one of my favorite education-related video. It’s a great example of differentiated instruction. In the video, some ducklings were able to get over the curb on their own. However, several found that it was just too high. Look at how someone provides assistance to those having trouble, and how he doesn’t tell them what to do. Instead, he offers it as an option, as a choice they can make. It’s an example of an old community organizing axiom, “If you don’t give people the opportunity to say no, you don’t give them the opportunity to say yes, either.”

And, third,
several years ago I received a special Christmas gift from Mary Ochs, a good friend who gave me my first job as a community organizer thirty years ago and who was my mentor during my nineteen year organizing career.

It was an older copy of a very small book titled “Axioms For Organizers” by Fred Ross, Sr.

Fred Ross, Sr. was a legendary community organizer. While working for the Industrial Areas Foundation (which I worked for during most of my organizing career) he became Cesar Chavez’s key mentor and adviser. Ross was the author of an extraordinary book that is still available titled Conquering Goliath: Cesar Chavez at the Beginning. In fact, this year, he was selected for the California Hall Of Fame.

Even though the little book that Mary sent me is long out-of-print, a quick Internet search found that it’s still available on a free online PDF.

The book is directed towards organizers, but all of Fred’s axioms offer important advice to teachers, as well.

I’d encourage you to review the entire PDF, which is very short, and here are a few of my favorites:

Short-Cuts –Short-cuts usually end in detours, which lead to dead ends.

Social Arsonist –A good organizer is a social arsonist who goes around setting people on fire.

People – It’s the way people are that counts, not the way you’d like them to be.

Organizing Is –Organizing is providing people with the opportunity to become aware of their own capabilities and potential.

Questions –When you are tempted to make a statement, ask a question.

Enjoy the holidays!