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The Goal (Goldratt E M)

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KS: Yes, and they're interconnected. Because behavior changes atti- tudes. Or maybe I should say that attitudes impact behavior. If a stu- dent can make a more responsible decision, and he gets a favorable impact, his attitude toward the teacher and what he's doing in school changes. That's bound to have some impact on his learning. But ad- ditionally, we have, in the past two years, really worked on how to deliver the TOC learning process through curriculum content. Or, again, maybe it's the other way around: How to teach content using the TOC processes. Because teachers do not want to interrupt class to teach a life skill. They have to teach the curriculum.

DW: I understand you've introduced TOC to young people in prison settings.

KS: I went into a juvenile jail in California about five years ago. I spoke to a new group of juvenile offenders, this was their first day. They were all gang members. Later the teacher who invited me told me he had been very worried because I was female and most of them had been abused by their moms. He was afraid they would back me into a corner and be quite rude. There I stood there in a polka dot dress, from Niceville, Florida, looking like the person who had put them in jail. I'm sure I didn't look very empathetic. But I tried to get

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them to tell me what they wanted out of life. They said things like. "We just want to get out of here, lady." I said, "Do you think that's enough to keep you out of here?"

Finally, one boy said to me, "I just want a better life for my kids." These were 16 to 19-year-old old black and Hispanic males. I looked at this guy and I said, "I'm sorry I don't understand, what do you mean? You have kids?" He said, "Yes, I have a two-year-old and a baby."

Anyway we had this goal on this rickety old chalkboard, "A better life." I said, "Okay, what is preventing you from having a better life?" They said, 'Jealous people." I turned around and I said again, "I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean by jealous." Because I'm thinking to myself, and not facetiously, "who could be jealous of them, they're in jail?" And that's when they said, "Oh, but if you go back and try to get out of the gang they'll be jealous, they don't want you to leave the gang, you can't leave," and all this.

They also mentioned prejudice as an obstacle. And as I'm making this list I am thinking, "I am in over my head." There was nothing I could think of that would overcome the obstacles these kids were facing. But I didn't need to worry about it. Because they had the answer. They went down the list and they added more obstacles like, "my past," and "criticism," and about halfway through they gave me something brilliant: "Me. Myself. I have to change my- self. Right away."

I later received letters from some of those kids. One of them said, "Before we had that talk, even making it to 21 was hard to see in my future. But you gave me hope." Now I ask you, did I give him the hope? No! It came from him! But he wrote, "You gave me hope that I can make it if I just follow those steps." That last part is so impor- tant. This is not just wishful thinking. It's giving somebody a process they can use, so that when the person who's giving them the attaboys isn't there, they have the know-why, not just the know-how to keep going.

DW: Does TOC have the same relevance to kids who don't have such severe obstacles to overcome?

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Absolutely. What it helps people do is to make sense of things. Many times, even in affluent communities, students are motivated only be- cause their parents want them to achieve. But learning does not make sense to them. It doesn't seem relevant. They're doing it only be- cause they have all the right environmental factors. What could be unleashed from those children if we could present information to them in such a way that they could derive their own answers instead of providing answers that were simply memorized? It's all about un- leashing people's potential. I have felt many times as a teacher that disruptive behavior comes from the high achievers as well as the low achievers-because the high achievers are bored! In TOC we have a way to differentiate instruction with one learning process. To bring them all with you.

DW: What is your goal for TOC For Education?

KS: I see empowered learners, enabled learners, and the real joy of lifelong discovery. All those platitudes that we aspire to, I see them being practically achieved. As well as people being kinder to each other. I see this as the real language of civility. Once I had to give a presentation about TOC to a group of teachers. We put on a play with some of my students. And afterwards the students were saying, "Mrs. Suerken, what's going to happen? This is so effective, there won't be any problems left." I thought, that will probably never hap- pen! But that's the way they saw it. I wish you could come to our conference in Serbia in May! We're going into Thailand this month through an organization called the Girl's Brigade, like the Girl Scouts. We have somebody in Singapore that's taking it into the sports coun- cil, into sports applications. We're in Malaysia. My new director in the United States, he's going to start a private school next fall and he's writing all of the curriculum based on TOC. Really, I think we've just touched the tip of the iceberg.

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For information about other books on the

Theory of Constraints (TOC)

please visit our web site at:

www.northriverpress.com

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