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Escalate Your Teaching

By Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman and

A class trip to Washington DC produced an interesting teaching opportunity for Mrs. Harper as she accompanied a small group of sixth-graders to the subway station. The station attendant asked them if they were on their way to ride the escalator. “What escalator?” two of the students asked simultaneously. “The second-longest escalator in the world,” he replied, “and it’s at the end of the green line, about twenty minutes from here. It’s part of the subway system.”

“I want to go,” said one student. “Me, too,” chimed in another. Mrs. Harper, a veteran educator, had developed an intuitive feel for knowing when to throw out lesson plans and go with the flow. She had done so many times before. She did it again this day and off the group headed to ride the world’s second-longest escalator.

The group of seven students, with chaperone in tow, navigated what turned out to be a thirty-minute trip out to the suburban train station where the escalator was located. Students were awed at the length and height of the moving stairway. They rode it up and down again and again. They took pictures. They laughed. They timed it coming and going. They counted the stairs and argued over the correct number. After forty minutes of experiencing the unusual people mover, some students and their teacher tired of the ride. Others wanted to continue.

After a show of hands produced a solid majority, the group headed back. Discussion on the return trip centered on how big the escalator was, what a surprise it was, and how difficult it must be to maintain.

Someone wanted to know when the first escalator was invented. Another student joked that it was invented by William Escalator in 1952.

Recognizing a positive learning moment when she saw one, Mrs. Harper took out a pencil and recorded her students’ questions. Her list included the following:

• Who came up with the idea for the first escalator?
• Where did that person get the idea and what year did it happen?
• How old was the inventor when he got the idea?
• What might have been some of the concerns the inventor had with the first plans?
• What other inventions came out of this idea?

Back at the hotel, a web search was organized to find information. The students discovered interesting answers to many of their self-generated questions.

For those of you who are interested in data like this, and not to leave you hanging, at the age of sixteen, Jesse Reno had the original idea for a moving staircase (later named an escalator). His invention was first showcased as an amusement park ride at Coney Island. He received a patent for his invention in 1891.

Knowing there are many things to learn that are more important than dates and facts, Mrs. Harper escalated the lesson to the next level. As the web search was drawing to a close, she asked her group to think seriously about the invention of the escalator. “All those stairs moving nonstop to take people up and down—indeed, all the escalators of the world—began many years ago with a single thought from a sixteen-year-old boy. That single thought turned into plans, and those plans turned into the first escalator.

“Everything you see in this room was once a thought,” she continued. “Thoughts have energy and go out into the universe and turn into things. Thoughts are that important. Be careful what you think, because your thoughts are creating your future reality.”

Noticing that the interest in her lecture burst was fading, Mrs. Harper wrapped it up with this statement. “I think we had a great day today and I think we’ll have another one tomorrow. How about you?” she challenged. The response was positive.

Mrs. Harper is one of a growing number of educators around the world who are alertly looking for teachable moments to help children learn about the Attraction Principle. They are doing so because they are aware of the power of belief and recognize they have been called to help children activate that power to manifest a better world.

Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are the authors of Teaching the Attraction Principle™ to Children. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for parents. To sign up for it or obtain more information on how to bring their expertise to your staff or parent group, visit their website today: