A STANDING OVATION AT MOT INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR DR DEMARTINI
A thunderous standing ovation by an audience of education luminaries greeted the last sentence of a recent talk by well-known human behavioural specialist and author Dr John Demartini.
He was invited as the key note speaker at the first MOT International Courage2B Conference held at Spier in Stellenbosch on 2 December. MOT (pronounced moed -meaning courage) is a Norwegian-based youth empowerment organisation operating in South Africa. The main purpose of the conference was to acknowledge, inspire and strengthen teachers for the critical role they play in the development of students.
While Dr Demartini's core message was inspired teachers make inspired students, he started off by explaining the cornerstone of human behaviour.
"Every individual has a hierarchy of values or a list of priorities they live by."
He was quick to point out that this has nothing do with morals or ethics.
He said our values are unique and we tend to filter our reality through them and used the example: "If a woman's highest value is her children and she's walks through a mall, she will see things related to children, like children's clothes, toys etc., and she will make decisions accordingly. "In the area of our highest values we have what I call attention surplus order, which in this case, are her children. However, she may have attention deficit disorder in the areas of business and finance and computer stores may go unnoticed."
Dr Demartini continued by saying that every decision we make is based on what we think will give us greater advantage over disadvantage, greatest reward over risk to fulfil our highest values or priorities. And that all peoples' decisions are based on those value structures.
He was leading up to the crucial message that whatever is highest on our values is where we awaken our genius, that there is a genius inside everyone one of us and that our greatest wealth potential sits there.
Throughout the talk he emphasised how important it is for teachers to teach children in their individual values to keep them interested, disciplined and focused. To demonstrate this, he related a story about one of the finest teachers he says he has ever met.
"Many years ago, I was invited to speak at the internationally acclaimed Wilhelm Scholê International in Texas by Marilyn Wilhelm herself. She travels the world teaching her methods to other teachers and is the author of the book Education: The Healing Art. The class was a group of 8 and 9 year olds. In the back of the room was a one-way, mirrored window. Behind it were teachers from many countries observing Marilyn's teaching methods. As I was about to speak, an 8 year old Japanese boy put his hand up and asked: Dr Demartini, I have a question. I would like to know the modus operandi of how encephalons and endorphins work in the cerebral hemispheres of the brain? It so happened that I had done a dissertation on that topic, but I was so blown away by a 8 year old asking me that question, I turned to Marilyn and said it would be wiser for me to observe than to speak. I watched her get up and work her magic. This is what she did. She cared enough about each child to consciously memorise what inspired them so she could identify each of their highest values.
"Marilyn does not see children as children, she sees them as geniuses."
"She honours them by teaching the curriculum in their own language and value systems instead of projecting onto them what they should learn."
"Marilyn was a master at this. She identified that one of the boys loved automobiles, another loved music, another loved history and another was interested in sports. Whatever it was, she utilised each of their highest value to teach them and draw out their genius."
"She would wave her stick like a wand and point it at her students and ask: �~Henry in 1905, tell us what was going on with the automobile.' And out came his genius according to his values. Every child had the inspiration to listen knowing that they were next to answer a question that would bring out their area of excellence. To the next she asked: What was going on in music at that time? All the answers were cross-loaded information on that period in history giving the class a broader knowledge."
"By the time these children were 13 they knew nine languages, religions of the world, sciences, arts, philosophies. Some went on to become Professors at Universities at a young age."
"She was once challenged by an educational system in New York. They stated it is easy to advance children from privileged backgrounds, but what if you had kids who came from Harlem? So she took 25 kids from Harlem and used the exact same method of teaching to show that deep inside every human being there is a genius waiting to surface according to the hierarchy of their values and that is has nothing to do with economic backgrounds. She transformed these young children's lives in months. She tapped into where there potential and brought it to the surface, which is what every child desires, dreams and aspires to do."
Demartini explained if a teacher does not take the time to communicate in a student's highest values, they may end up unconsciously projecting their values onto the student. This will create an alternating monologue instead of a dialogue. However, if the teacher is inspired by the curriculum and is caring enough to communicate it in each student's highest values, it becomes inspiring for the teacher to teach and the student to learn.
Dr Demartini tells his next story to clarify how to link values to the curriculum which the audience welcomes, eager to absorb more on how to teach and reach children through values.
"I believe it is unwise to curtail the natural born genius in children, but to unveil it by linking it to what we want to teach them."
"I was in Seattle at a university and about to speak to a theology class and right outside the door there were students studying. I had 20 minutes to spare and while I waited I noticed there was a young boy who looked challenged and anxious. I didn't want to disturb him, but I also thought I could help him. So I asked him: I see that you are about to take what looks like a test. He said yes, but that he was anxious and unprepared. I asked him if he would like some ideas that might help him do better."
With an affirmative reply from the student, Demartini explained that any subject you take where you can't see how it connects to your highest values will go into short-term memory. But once you can see how it fulfils your highest values, it will go into long-term memory."
He cites the example: "How many times have you met someone and when they said their name, you forgot it before they had finished saying it? But if it is someone who you deem to be important, you will repeat it so you won't forget it."
"This is the same reason why so many children are labelled with attention deficit disorder (ADD). They are usually children with a narrow value system, who don't relate to all of the subjects. But that same child can have an autographic, photographic and audio-graphic memory when it comes to video games and can totally focus for six hours or more. It is more probable they have a teacher who isn't inspired by the curriculum, who isn't taking the care to find out the child's values and communicate the curriculum in those values."
He returns to his maths student: "I asked the student what he loves to do. He said Skiing. So can you see how doing well in math is going to make you a better skier and how to apply it to your mastery? The student said no. I asked him, aren't you coming down on an inclined plane and therefore you have the forces of gravity and movement? And I started showing him the relationship between the dynamics of skiing and math. The more I linked it, the more inspired he became and the more his mind awakened and absorbs it to utilize it. Then the faster we share it with somebody after we learn something, the more it is retained. Would you agree that when you learn something that inspires you, you want to share it? It is a natural tendency."
"So I sat there for the 20 minutes linking his mastery in skiing with maths. Before he got up to go into the test, he gave me a hug and said: �~I never saw math like that before and what advantage it could give me in skiing."
"You can take any class and any value system and make the link. Before every class all the way though my education I asked myself how is taking this class is going to help me with what is most meaningful to me? That is one of the most powerful questions you will ever ask yourself. I would not stop answering it until I saw it and once I did, I didn't take the class because I had to, I took the class because I wanted to. I was now a vehicle of receptivity."
"But it's only one half of the equation; the teacher also needs to link what they are teaching with their highest values so they go to work enthused. He asked the audience: "Would you agree that you know when a teacher is inspired and fulfilling their dream as opposed to a teacher who is just doing their job?" When the teacher truly wants to teach, the student is far more inclined to want to learn.
Dr Demartini's wisdom flowed for well over an hour and if the floor had been something harder than a carpet, you would have a heard a pin drop. Before his time was finally up, he regaled his own story of triumph over extreme adversity which included his learning difficulties. Clearly his greatest void became his greatest value.
Pictured above: Prof. Eltie Links - Chairperson of MOT SA Board - with Dr John Demartini