Saturday, April 01, 2006

Benjamin Franklin's journal of morals

I graduated from the University of the Pacific with a degree in Music Education. The reason I bring this up is because one of the requirements of earning this degree was to take a class called VMR (Video Micro Rehearsal).

Basically, we video-taped ourselves teaching in the local public schools. In class, we (about 15 of us) would watch 10 or so minutes of the tape. Each viewer had a job to do: one would count how many verbal ticks we used (umms, ands, uhs, etc.), another would study posture, another eye contact, another would determine how much "dead time" there was, etc.

The point of this class is to be completely aware of ourselves and improve on whatever was our weakness. After all, an average music teacher has the opportunity to work with between 500-1500 students per year. Quite a lot of lives to make a difference in.

VMR was a truly exceptional class. I personally believe all teachers - not just music teachers - should take this class. This class was also brutal. After all, the point of it was to be analyzed. And then your fellow classmates tell, to your face, how you measured up.

Now imagine grabbing a journal, without any other prompting or requirement to fulfill. In that journal, you will log every time you fail to be sincere. Or every time you lack cleanliness. Or humility. Or justice. Or frugality. Or any of the other 13 morals.

Benjamin Franklin did just that. His goal was to one day, have a "clean slate." Meaning he was morally sound. And he did this for several years. My point is, his desire to become the best person he could be is mind-blowing. The class I experienced in just a few months was his way of life. No wonder he was such a great leader.


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