“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”  –Simon Sinek in the TED Talk video How Great Leaders Inspire Innovation  http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

Thanks to Judy Dubois for providing the link to this excellent video on the benslavic.com blog.  I have listened to it over and over this morning and it is making me think of why and what we are trying to do with TPRS/TCI.  Here are some random thoughts that I can sense will change the way I approach my fellow teachers about this.

In TPRS we are “selling” an idea, better teaching, but we have been going about it backwards.  We have been selling the WHAT, not the WHY.  We have been selling from the outside in.  Something like this:

“TPRS is a better way of teaching.  It is what your students need.  It compliments the way the human brain works, the ACTFL standards and the way kids are nowadays. Don’t you want to teach this way?”

According to Simon Sinek a message like this is not inspiring to somebody that does not already get it because the WHAT is not motivating.  The WHAT does not change behavior.  The WHY does.  We need to change the message to WHY, to the inside out. What is our purpose? Why should anyone care about this way of teaching? Well, we do it for ourselves. This is the WHY that attracted me to teaching with TPRS:

“If you are the kind of teacher that wants their students to actually speak the language spontaneously and love it, do we have a method for you.  This way of teaching challenges the status quo.  It is different.  It gets kids to speak and understand the language at a deep level and they don’t forget it.  Oh yea, and I also leave school by 3:00 every day to go play golf instead of grading papers all night.”

I don’t know that he said these exact words, but this was the message that I heard that day. Blaine Ray was able to communicate some big WHY’s that appealed to me the first hour that that I heard him speak about TPRS.  The WHAT’s came later.  We need to do more of that.


TPRS is a dream, not a plan.

We are going to win this struggle for more student-centered teaching based on C.I. because we believe in this stuff.  We are not teaching this way just for the money.  Many of us would do it for free–in fact we pay to do this by travelling to conferences and workshops, buying materials and setting up websites on our own dime.

We are doing this for ourselves.  It will spill over.