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Arlington, MA 02476



Did You Understand the Math Homework?

“Did you understand the math homework?”

I wish everyone could have learned math from Sarge.

Sarge was a legend in my high school. At the end of every year he would take out a small step ladder, and in perfect calligraphy write each student’s name on his classroom wall. The names circled the classroom, keeping watch, making you feel like you were part of some great math tradition. It was a badge of honor to have your name on that wall.

On the first day of class, Sarge worked through a few math problems with us, and sent us off with our homework. That night, when I opened my math book, I discovered that the first three homework problems were exactly like the problems we had worked through in class. You had to plug different numbers into the formulas, but it was easy to see which formula to use.

Solving the next three problems required combining at least two of the formulas in a variety of ways. This required some thought but was relatively straightforward given our new mastery of the three formulas. Homework finished.

What do Sarge and High School Math have to do with the Three Pillars of Leadership™?

1. Vision

Sarge believed that everyone could understand and enjoy math. He had endless patience and rewarded hard work. If you were committed to learning the material, he would work with you till you got it. You could stop by at any time and he would welcome you warmly and answer all your questions. We all bought into the vision: that we could learn the material and master this subject called math.

If I were to talk to your employees, what would they say is your vision?

2. Motivation

I worked hard in that class. I wanted to see my name on the wall, and I wanted to deserve my spot. I wanted to be part of that tradition.

What techniques and strategies do you use to motivate your employees?

3. Learning

Sarge demonstrated the skills we had to learn by doing the problem himself on the blackboard. Then he made us practice by coming up to the blackboard and doing the problem ourselves in front of the class. Questions were always welcome, and mistakes and misunderstandings were celebrated as progress towards mastery. By the time we got to our homework, we already had experience using our new skills, and the homework simply reinforced what we had learned.

What kind of learning environment did you create today?

Sarge had mastered the Three Pillars of Leadership.

Have you?

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