I was in a used book store and ran across this classic piece of business literature from the 90’s. Fish! was authored by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen. For those interested, the highlighted Pike Place Fish market’s web address is http://www.pikeplacefish.com/. John Christensen has a website at http://www.charthouse.com where you can explore the philosophy as well as a Fish! for schools tab. Although I had been to workshops that discussed the ideas, I had never read the book. It is a quick, easy read with a good plot line and simple but meaningful message. If you have read it before or seen the film, revisiting the material in print is a good idea.
The first, overarching tenant of the philosophy is – choose your attitude. There is a story comparing having a child with a disability with planning a trip to Italy and getting off the plane in Holland. You can read it at http://www.tasgreetings.com/holland.html . That story reinforces the message of attitude. You pick your attitude. You may not be able to pick your circumstances, but you do get to pick how you respond. Parenting is a difficult job and parenting a child with a disability is even more challenging. Regarding this life-long job I embarked upon, I have often said I can either laugh or cry and I do not like to cry. So yes, I laugh about the time my son climbed on to the roof and peeled the shingles off because he was angry at being sent inside after pulling his sister off the swings and having her head hit the ground first- it took my husband who had to repair the roof longer to laugh. Yes, I choose to laugh about the time I held a screaming child in a wrap hold at the Corning Museum of Glass to keep him from running with flailing arms through the gift shop. Life is full of these moments, we need to be able to see the silver lining and cast the terror of the moment into a positive light. Choosing to have a happy attitude is the one thing that keeps me from sinking into the depths of despair at my life.
After choose your attitude the other three guidelines presented are play, make their day, and be present in the moment. I immediately see how these things are seen and dismissed at times in parenting. We get focused on the frazzle not the moment. We over-program our kids and then focus on doing it right, not being there with them. It becomes about winning, not having fun. We can choose to life our personal lives this way or not, it is up to us.
The same goes for teaching. We can be overwhelmed with the paperwork; behavior problems; expected curriculum; difficult adults; and administrative, state and federal mandates or we can choose to be there, try to make learning fun and rewarding, and focus on the individuals. I suspect that if we give our students our attention, have an attitude that what we are doing is interesting, challenging and fun and focus on making their days both as a group and collectively, we will be better, happier teachers.