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Motivational

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high_schoolers_studying

My time studying and learning with Applied Scholastics Online Academy has been totally profound! I have constantly been opened up to different study techniques, ways to improve my vocabulary, methods for tackling mathematics, secrets to becoming financially successful. Each subject has been so unique, but similar at the same time in the sense that they are all related to what it is that I am most passionate about.

E.M.

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happiness and study

“As long as children and young men and women find pleasure in study, they will continue studying throughout life — and upon that depends their happiness.”

– L. Ron Hubbard, Ron Magazine on Education

Applied Scholastics Online Academy prepares educational programs exceeding state requirements based on the educational philosophy of L. Ron Hubbard.

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Student in Science Lab

“A man can be given rudimentary instruction in reading, writing, history, literature, music, manners and mathematics. Anyone keeping him in school, as just school, after he learns these is wasting his manhood. A man should be in the environment of his chosen profession from the age of at least fifteen. He should be educated after that in short spurts in school as he desires to know more.”

– L. Ron Hubbard, APS Educator’s Course, page 58

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Hand writing

You may not write worth beans, or rice for that matter, but you are a storyteller. While your tale is shaded differently from all others, there is a constant, as unwavering as the sun, moon and stars. It is that simple truth that you hold life in your hands.

For each man pens his own life story. Every word he writes is up to him.

Despite influences, be they good, bad or indifferent, we are one for one, responsible for the decisions we make on every page. We are authors of our speech, architects of our desires, creators of our dreams, originators of our emotions, and we are the designer of our deeds and of our misdeeds.

When our book closes for the very last time, will it have a happy ending? Will we know in our heart of hearts we did our best to fulfill our dreams and bring good will to others? Did we slay those villains called Criticism, Regret, and Blame? Does self-respect remain? Answers and responsibility for living a good life or a bad one rest squarely on our own frail shoulders.

While this truth often goes unnoticed, hidden by the activities and problems of day-to-day living, perhaps it finally finds credence when we reach the brink of adulthood or teeter on the edge of death.

But such philosophical underpinnings of life can and should be introduced at the youngest of age. Every child deserves to know it. No child should grow up thinking someone else is to blame for what he does or what he thinks. His parents, teachers and other adults in his life should make it known to him that he is capable of changing his own circumstances. Even before reaching school age, children can be taught a bit of responsibility and encouraged to practice acts of kindness.

It is a child’s job to learn academics so he can succeed in later life. He should know that if he needs help, he must seek it. If help arrives, he must avail himself of it. If others need his help, it is in his hands to give it or not.

He is the guiding force behind his own actions.

But what do we do when tragedy or disaster writes itself in our book? How do we prepare our children or ourselves for such sorrow? Is there a way to outwit misfortune?

Yes, indeed! By holding fast to the knowledge that even when a bad hand is dealt, we are still master over how we play the hand.

Acknowledge mental suffering when you must, but at the same time insist on a positive attitude. We are living breathing examples for our children. Let them see us vanquish disappointment with accomplishment, conquer sadness with humor, and wipe our tears with upbeat music or physical activity. Tracking our footprints, they too will write pages of happiness.

Men, women and children, we are ultimate cause over our own actions, cause over our own emotions. We are authors, everyone.

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Joker

When you were a child, were you ever in the embarrassing position of having another person make fun of you in front of your friends? Were you ever the butt of a joke? Did you ever suffer the agony of knowing kids were laughing at you? I sincerely hope not.

Such dark memories were, however, a part of my childhood—all centering on a girl named Jackie. She was in my second grade class. A few weeks after school started she walked up to me and said, “I don’t like you.” When I asked “why” she said, “because I hate you!” I didn’t understand of course. I hadn’t even talked to her before she accosted me with her declaration of hate. All through second grade I wondered what it was that caused her to dislike me so.

Fortunately, Jackie wasn’t in any of my later primary or elementary school classes but she was in my Girl Scout Troop. I tried to avoid her but often, when the troop leader wasn’t looking, or when Jackie saw me on the school playground, she would whisper something to one of her friends and point at me. I can tell you with certainty this was not beneficial to my self-confidence.

But before you start to feel sorry for poor little me, you should know that while I was merely confused at age seven, by the time I was ten, I had plotted some rather despicable ways of getting even with Jackie. My only problem: I didn’t have the guts to carry out any of my plans.

But the story includes an interesting turn of events.

One afternoon after a scout meeting Jackie was surrounded by a group of girls. As I walked by she pointed at me and whispered loud enough for me to make out what she was saying, “That’s the girl who wets her pants in school.” Of course since she was talking about me and not to me, there was no way for me to deny it.

I was waiting for the other kids to start snickering and already wishing I could be swallowed up by Mother Earth, when a little girl named Jeri, who I barely knew, jumped up, looked at Jackie and said loudly, “I don’t believe you; that is not true and it’s not funny!”

Amazingly, Jackie didn’t protest; she didn’t say anything. I suddenly felt ten feet tall—someone had stuck up for me!

The next day I was in for another surprise. Jackie saw me but she didn’t make a nasty crack. Her campaign against me was over. My plans of revenge melted into nothingness.

A short time later Jeri’s family moved to another city and I never saw her again—but a half century later, I vividly remember the lesson she taught me.

It is one I pass on to my students. I tell them of an action each of us should take—an action that benefits all:

When we hear someone make fun of another; when we hear someone tell a joke at another’s expense; when we hear someone gaily criticize or devaluate another’s dreams or efforts—we must let that someone know such actions are not okay.

And we must never let someone get away with saying “Oh, I was just joking” because tearing down another person is not good-natured humor—it is ruthless and cruel.

We set an example for the “joker” to follow when we tell him that degrading remarks are not funny, that we consider them objectionable. In essence, we are inviting him to look at the effect he did create and asking him to adjust it to match the effect he wishes to create.

Or, it may be that there was something the “joker” did not understand about the person he ridiculed. By not going along with the ridicule, we allow him to look for such misunderstandings and clear them up.

Another possibility is that the “joker” needs to work out the difference between a witty remark that is amusing and can be enjoyed by all—as opposed to a remark that makes someone uncomfortable (which would never be amusing for that person).

Or the “joker” could simply be rude. Having a non-compromising attitude toward rudeness will reinforce the idea that such behavior is totally unacceptable.

And for the person who gets targeted, when we stick up for him, we allow him to keep his self-confidence.

Bottom-line, by insisting that people be respectful of one another, we make a kinder world—a more humane world.

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Girl writing on laptop

Play the Writing Game!

I know quite a number of budding authors who sweep me away with their creative ideas and imaginings — individuals filled with passion about the books they are writing. I am often surprised, however, to learn nothing or very little is actually put down on paper. Years pass, stories dim and manuscripts never materialize.

These individuals taught me the most important rule of the writing game: to be a writer, you must write. Of course one may dream or ponder, but such actions are preparation. Dreaming is not writing. Pondering is not writing. Putting thoughts down on paper is writing. The only way to be a writer is to write. There is no other way.

Rules of the Game

Why write? A foremost reason is that putting your ideas on paper makes them more concrete and keeps them from fading. Why do I write? It is a way to express things that are important to me and it is a way of forcing me to observe something closely so I can write about it. But my favorite reason: I find writing fun. It’s the best way I know to propel the innermost thoughts out of my mind and onto the playing field of life.

If you don’t write much, I invite you to write more. If you are new to the adventure, you might naturally ask, “What should I write about?” That is easy to answer. Everybody has loves or hates — things they feel deeply about — write about the things you know or feel. You are, after all, unique unto yourself: only you can write precisely the way you see things.

Another rule of the game is to read a lot. One is usually “in love” with reading before he is bitten by the “writing bug.” Stephen King, author of such best sellers as Fire Starter and The Green Mile, says: “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

Being an avid reader usually makes it easier to be a prolific writer. Try it. Read a good book. Get inspired. Grab pen and paper or keyboard and let your own story rip!

Most Important Rule

The next writing rule is so noteworthy it should be embossed on every author’s forehead: never, NEVER stomp on your own creativity. Statements such as “I’m not a good writer” or “my writing stinks” are poison. So for goodness sake, don’t poison yourself! And don’t let someone else poison you. If you ask for another’s opinion and you don’t like what he says, ignore it. And don’t take advice you don’t agree with (not mine or anyone’s). Above all, ignore critics. It’s not a
perfect world. Someone, somewhere, at sometime is going to be critical of you. Utterly and completely ignore his snarl.

One last rule: know the difference between writing and editing. To edit is to prepare for publication or presentation by correcting, revising, or adapting. Editing is not writing. When you write, you are letting creative juices flow. Don’t let your attention get stuck on grammar, punctuation, spelling or re-reading to see if it makes sense. It doesn’t matter. It is about writing creatively. It is about having fun. Later, if your work is for an audience, you must edit, but remember you are editing. It is a separate skill.

With the rules of the writing game delineated, anyone can play!

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Asian child

There is only one me. There is only one you.

The words I say, the words I write belong to me; as do my desires, ambitions and talents, as do my shortcomings and frustrations. Your words, desires, ambitions, talents, shortcomings and frustrations, belong to you.

What I do in life; where I go; what I accomplish or fail to accomplish rests on my shoulders, and my shoulders alone. What you do; where you go; what you accomplish or fail to accomplish rests on no other shoulders than yours.

I have the ability to make things better or make them worse; only I am responsible for the choices I make. You can soar with your dreams
or bow to the beckoning of evil; only you are responsible for the choices you make.

When the identity of my body flickers and the last ember dies, I must answer only to myself. And when your lifetime is over, you must answer to none other than you.

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Father and son on ferris wheelThe child tunes in to life and learns at breakneck speed. Mimicking what he sees and hears — he plays tribute to the old “Monkey See; Monkey Do” adage.

If the child were raised by wolves, he would howl in the wind and walk on all fours. But unlike the monkey and wolf, children are not animals.

Take a dog for example: Rover likes to chase cars. He sees a neighbor’s dog hit and killed while chasing a car. Does Rover learn from the other dog’s mistake? No, he goes right on chasing cars.

Children are different from Rover, very different. You can show them how to cross a street safely and they are able to learn and understand.

If little Jimmy were to teethe on Dad’s best slippers, Dad would never hit him with a newspaper and say “bad baby” — perhaps you can teach a dog this way but not a toddler. Instead, Jimmy’s parents must demonstrate, by their own good example, the way to show consideration for the property of others.

It is no different from other endeavors of life. Parents who love to read usually make every effort to read to their child. The child in turn comes to love books and usually learns to read quickly and easily. While the child, whose parents ignore books and spend every evening watching TV, may have difficulty learning to read.

It is the same with manners. Have you ever met a beautifully behaved child? A child who says “please” and “thank you,” a child who is considerate of others, who is a delight to be with? Without a doubt, the people around such a child are polite to him, treat him with respect and grant him importance.

What you put out is what you get back. Hence, the saying, “what goes around comes around”.

Can we cause a child to be enthusiastic? Indeed, if we ourselves are enthusiastic about life. Is it in our power to cause a child to be loving and kind? Yes, if we love him dearly and set the example of routinely performing acts of kindness toward others.

What about that sought-after quality, happiness? Can we cause our children to be happy?

All that we need do is plant a smile on our face and:

  1. Talk cheerfully
  2. Laugh often
  3. Keep on smiling
  4. Laugh some more
  5. Don’t be afraid to giggle—it is good for the soul
  6. Act happy
  7. Be happy

Use 1 to 7 as a blueprint for the way you behave around your child. Then stand back and watch the effect it has on everyone around you.

You might even become the happiest person you know!

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Confident woman

The term self-esteem is batted around in every educational arena in the nation. Teachers are taught a child’s happiness depends on it and lack of it causes bullying, disrespect and even violence. If self-esteem is of such great consequence, what-is this sought after quality anyway?

The word self-esteem was coined in 1890 by psychologist William James who defined it as “a ratio between someone’s successes and failures in a particular area.” The problem with James’s definition is that someone could have the quality today but lose it tomorrow. A man marries the girl  of his dreams and is on top of the world. Hello, self-esteem. Then one evening he comes home and finds she’s run off with his best friend. Bye-bye, self-esteem.

In the mid 1960s, the idea of self-esteem moved to the field of education; the definition changed to include the stability missing in the earlier definition. Self-esteem became “a stable sense of personal worth.” Students should feel good about themselves at all times, not just during happy  moments. If you know at least two children, you might see the quandary teachers had when school administrators insisted self-esteem be instilled in every child.

Teachers were expected to praise all students including those who scribbled on assignments, ripped pages, or were uncooperative in learning information needed for life skills. With this new definition, students were praised for any work done, be it stellar or inferior. And like James’ definition, this one had its downside: an incompetent student, bully or gang member could suffer from too much unearned high self-esteem just as easily as not enough.

How does the definition fare today? An on-line dictionary defines self-esteem firstly as “a feeling of pride in yourself,” and secondly as “the  quality of being worthy of respect.”

If teachers today use definition one and put attention on making students feel  good but fail to demand competence, again a grave injustice befalls students. They conclude, as happened in the mid-60s, that just the act of completing assignments is enough to warrant pride and overlook the truism: competence plays a giant role when it comes to success.

Being Worthy of Respect

Therefore, it is the second definition, the quality of being worthy of respect that gives a workable way to factually raise a child’s feeling of self-worth. Using it, I can personally raise any child’s self esteem and so can you!

All we need do is encourage the child to do something valuable for another. Think of the last time you made someone’s eyes sparkle with gratitude for something you had done for him. A child is no different. The more we do for others, the more respect we have for ourselves.

Go out and try it. Do something nice for every member in your family, for your friends and neighbors. Take care to note how wonderful it makes you feel. Get your child into the habit of doing the same. If he learns to have fun by helping others, you have brought about the “self-esteem” educators actually intended, a child worthy of respect!

Confident woman

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Confident child

Why make a New Year’s resolution? Making resolutions at the start of the year exemplifies Man’s desire to improve conditions in life. Setting a specific goal and seeing it through dates back to Babylonian times about 4,000 years ago. Indeed, it may be mankind’s longest-lived tradition. A persistence founded on the idea that a resolution is a gift to oneself.

Our culture, you see, is strewn with messages on the virtue of giving to others, but little is mentioned about the benefit of giving to ourselves. Consequently, we often neglect our own well-being—one firm decision can straighten out such an oversight.

Hence, a list of common New Year’s resolutions reads something like this: get fit, eat better, quite smoking, quit drinking alcohol, start enjoying life more, start spending more time with family, learn something new, laugh more often.  But perhaps the best resolution of all—the best gift to you—is your own insistence on a daily dose of self-confidence.

We undermine confidence with our belief that Man is supposed to be “his own worst critic.” We usually are way too hard on ourselves. To overcome this adverse tendency, resolve (as the word resolution implies) to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for each and every accomplishment. It is not arrogant or egotistical to commend oneself for a job well done; it is desirable and proper.

With this in mind, set aside a few minutes in the evening to put your attention on all the things you did right that day: I ate a healthful breakfast. I drove politely. I got to work on time. I smiled and accepted my co-worker’s compliments on my completed project. I read to my kids. I admired the sunset. I told my family I love them. I wrote an overdue letter. This can bring satisfaction and make everyday a “very good day.”

As well, the resolution to endorse your own correct actions results in a higher affinity for yourself. It makes you a truer friend to yourself. And since genuine friends always stickup for each other, you too must always stickup for yourself. That means no saying aloud or even thinking such thoughts as: I’m not sure I’m qualified. I’m always goofing up. I usually say the wrong thing. I look ugly today. It is an irrefutable fact that self-invalidation is destructive and serves no purpose.

But what happens if you do mishandle a situation or screw-up royally? That’s easy. If you mess-up—fix it of course and do it right—but never, never, never dwell on the negative aspect of it. After all, isn’t that exactly the advice you would give a troubled friend? So why not heed it yourself?

Then too, it is within our power to turn negatives to positives by viewing any mistake as a learning experience. A blunder can be a good thing if we learn not to do it again. It’s all in the way we look at it.

So make a decision to acknowledge the bright side—to believe in your own rightness. You will instantly be a more confident you!

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