Sun Tzu ‘The Art of War’: How to apply 5 simple lessons into your classroom.

The art of war cartoon for blog1. If the words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, then the general is to blame.

When you create a project or assignment, you need to make sure the instructions are clearly outlined. Either include a rubric, a sample, written instructions, or re-visit the assignment to recap in class.


2. If there is disturbance in the camp, the general’s authority is weak.

If you have a class that seems hard to control, then somewhere along the line your authority has become weak. Sometimes you need to put your foot down so students don’t mistake your kindness for weakness.

Tip: After about 20-25 minutes of lecturing, give students a 3-minute ‘brain break’. It will allow students to have a brief conversation with each other during this time, instead of when you’re doing the talking. After the 3 minutes is up, resume again until the longer ‘coffee break’ that should be given about 20-25 minutes after the 3 minute brain break.

3. If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual.

I have learned that you have to give students flexibility in how they do their assignments. However, you need to give them clear objectives that need to be achieved. Tell them you are giving them this flexibility because you are confident that they will produce something better if they have some creative freedom. They’ll enjoy doing the assignments, and you’ll enjoy seeing the different approaches they use. It also makes marking them a bit more interesting.

4. Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you wherever you may lead.

Treat your students as if they were your own son or daughter sitting there in your class. What do you need to do for them that would help them achieve the success that you want for your own kids? If you don’t have kids, then maybe think of them as your nieces or nephews, or you could think of them as yourself when you were their age.

5. “Rewards for good service should not be deferred a single day.”

Rewards. Respect. Recognition. That’s really what your students want. Remember those 3 things and make it your mantra in the classroom. If a student(s) does good work, recognize it and let them know. If you can find a small reward  (ask your Student Association for small prizes), then that’s even better. You will be showing respect and, most likely, you will get it back. Even a mention, or a certificate will do the trick; that costs nothing or very little.

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