Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 255: Sheep Herding

Day 255: Sheep Herding, originally uploaded by susanvg.

Instinct - that's what the gentleman spoke about as he demonstrated how his border collies herd sheep. They are bred for herding and it is remarkable to watch them focus solely on herding the sheep. He explained that in training them he does not reward or praise them, just lets them know through tone of voice that they are off the mark.

The dogs understood spoken commands as well as whistle commands and obeyed completely (well not quite completely), never taking their eyes off the sheep.

I'm just reading Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness in Room 56 by Rafe Esquith. Our students are much more complex than these dogs. Instinct alone will not help our students develop. But the respect for the capabilities of our students and the belief that they can achieve is common to the approach of both Rafe and the dog trainer. As for the sheep - we have to help our students see that following the flock and banding together isn't the best path to growth!

1 comment:

  1. You make a good point - I like to teach my grandchildren to think for themselves, though that sometimes doesn't work to my advantage. An interesting comment made by the Montessori Academy that the 2 and 3 year olds attend is that praise is overused today. I think this may be true for some children but certainly not for all.