"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Twinkle Teachers Demand Personal Happiness as Nuclear Power Goal in Classroom. Welcome to Whole Brain Teaching.

Hand gestures and the "ten-fingered whoohoo" imperative in Whole Brain Teaching.
Is the goal of education to make your "dear teacher happy"?

This is a "nuclear" goal if your school district using "Whole Brain Teaching".  Several Missouri districts are using this method focusing on making students more engaged in the learning process:

I was ready to quit teaching for good. The stress and apathy of the students and parents had worn me down, robbed me of my love for teaching, and left me completely disillusioned with the career I loved. It was almost too much. 

The thing that saved me is Whole Brain Teaching. This is an approach that began about ten years ago in Southern California.
Chris Biffle, a philosophy professor at Crafton Hills College, engaged the support of two former students, Jay Vanderfin, and Chris Reksted, both former students, who are now elementary teachers.

The three of them realized that a they all had the common problem of flagging student engagement, and worse, it was becoming epidemic. Everywhere they looked, everyone they talked to, the story was the same. Something had to be done.

They decided a radical change in approach was warranted. They set out to learn more about how students should learn as opposed to the traditional ways teachers typically use. Research into whole brain learning, and applying what they learned was the answer
Whole Brain Teaching was the result. Whole Brain Teaching is a method that integrates an effective classroom management system with learning approaches that tap the way your brain learns best. This approach is amazingly effective, and fun for both you the teacher, and the students.

Let's look at an "effective classroom management system" with the goal of making the "dear teacher happy".  From wholebrainteaching.com:


The following are five classroom rules that will make your life amazingly easier. One of them is nuclear power in your hands!

If rules are only posted on your board they are not really a part of your class. You must have the rules running around in your students’ heads for them to be effective. It will also help you quiet extra talking in the class. Look for that as you read.
Teach them as follows:

Rule One: Follow directions quickly! (the gesture: make your hand shoot forward like a fish)

Rule Two: Raise your hand for permission to speak (the gesture: raise your hand, then pull it down next to your head and make a talking motion. This rule will be the most commonly violated. See below for how you stop this without criticism or negativity.)

Rule Three: Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. (the gesture: raise your hand, and then make a little walking figure with your index and middle finger.)

Rule Four: Make smart choices! (the gesture: tap one finger to your temple as you say each word.

Rule Five: Keep your dear teacher happy! (the gesture: hold up each thumb and index finger out like an “L” framing your face; bob your head back and forth with each word and smile really big!)
In elementary school, rehearse the rules first thing in the morning, after lunch and after each recess. When you call out the rule number, your students respond with the rule itself and the correct gesture. Make the rehearsals as entertaining as possible; use a variety of voices (happy, robot, froggy) and tempos, fast, slow, super fast. For additional fun, ask of your liveliest students to lead the rules rehearsal.
Rule Two will be the most commonly violated, duh. You do not have to call anyone down; you do not have to mention names. If you are addressing the class and some kids are talking, you stop, hold up two fingers and loudly say “RULE TWO!”
Every kid in your class should repeat rule two energetically with gestures. This signals the violators to stop talking ... without you needing to scold them.
Rule Five is nuclear power. Think about it- keep your dear teacher happy. THERE IS NO LOOPHOLE! No student can convince you that they are making you happy. You are the world's greatest authority on what makes you happy. If they try to convince you they are making you happy, immediately inform them that does not make you happy.
If a student complains that they don’t know how to make you happy, tell them that following the first four rules will be just dandy.
Rule Five has no loophole.  (MEW note: Does this smack of emotional blackmail?)
If parents ask why their child should worry about making you happy, respond that you have the responsibility to teach their child and every other child in that class. The happier you are, the better you can do your job. (MEW note: Since when is it the student's responsibility to create and maintain teacher happiness?  Why should teacher happiness be a prerequisite to perform his/her job?)

Now, let's think briefly, about how these five classroom rules relate to brain structure.  The brain learns in five ways, by seeing, saying, hearing, doing and feeling.  When you teach the rules with the Whole Brain signs, your students' brains are maximally operative.  They see the signs, hear the rules, say the rules and make the gestures.  If you are upbeat and entertaining in your presentation, and of course you are!, your students will also have the lovely feeling of having fun.  Also note that for all five modes of brain learning to take place for your students, you have to engage in all five modes yourself.  Whole Brain Teaching is as great for the instructor's brain as the students'!


If you have a child in the Union, Sullivan, Silex or Joplin School Districts you might want to sit in on a class and watch the techniques.  Contrived hand signals are to be done with certain movements.  Did you watch any of the encounters in the OWS movement?  Do you think "uptwinkles" and "downtwinkles" are effective means of communication or are you concerned about the "groupthink" mentality present in this movement?  Is this a version of "groupthink" mentality in both of these movements?

Watch this youtube presentation of whole brain teaching taught in a kindergarten class.  Make note of the "ten-fingered whoohoo" (around 3:20):

If a teacher's main goal is to control the classroom and receive rote answers, this is an example of how to accomplish these goals.  If a teacher's goal is to create learning that is creative and allowing the child to learn intrinsic self-discipline, this is not the program to use.  

If you as a parent disagree about this type of learning going on in your school district, take a deep breath and understand you might incur the wrath of the "dear teacher".  But, unlike your 5 year old who doesn't have any idea what makes "the dear teacher happy", you are an adult and understand the teacher has a professional job to perform, regardless of his/her emotional state.  His/her happiness is not the most important goal in your child's education.

Comments from the video:

I can't stand this method of teaching...the kids are acting like robots and are they really learning or just doing what the teacher says. this sucks :(

WOAH! Rule number 5! If students are taught to "please" their teacher they are not developing intrinsic self control. I wonder how they act when the dear teacher is not present? I guess this is the difference between teacher centered, and student centered education.

Where is the relationship with your individual and unique students? This is depressing and makes me sick.

I have omitted the comments from the teachers wanting to try it in their classrooms.  They believe the students are engaged via "sing song" speech and uptwinkles.   Welcome to Whole Brain Teaching.

For your viewing pleasure, here are OWS hand signals explained:

We'll have more on Whole Brain Teaching methods to older students in a subsequent post.


  1. Wow! This is really shocking and very concerning. Perhaps rule #5, Make Your Dear Teacher Happy, has another goal, make dear leader happy, did anyone else catch the, "yes we can," about 6 minutes into the video? This also brought to mind some of the scenes from "1984" and the rote responses expected of the citizens and the denial of individuality and creativity, as well as absolute loyalty to big brother. There would have been no industrial revolution that brought so many innovations and new technologies if this type of classroom had been the norm in our nation.

  2. Let me get all this straight-

    We are going to insist they make the teacher happy

    We are going to put bracelets on them so we'll know when they're not thinking about making teacher happy

    We are going to make them wear bracelets that will monitor their physical activity-- presumably the combined data from the two bracelets will tell authorities when they're having too much fun..

    We are going to use RFD IDs to monitor their whereabouts

    With all that the next step is obvious-- Electronic Shock Collars... That way authorities can send them a message whenever the bracelet/RFD data doesn't meet approved norms

  3. Hmmmm...it is a little distressing the degree to which you are jumping to conclusions, and misunderstanding the whole point here. It is very difficult to accurately gauge what you are seeing from a very short clip designed for teachers who have a basic idea of what they are really doing.

    I am a veteran teacher who has used this method for several years with middle school and college level students with great positive effect, and teach others how to use it.

    Let me ask you this- are you interested in actually hearing answers to your questions or are you more interested in just throwing rocks, inaccurately, at a technique that you do not yet understand. If the former, I would be glad to enter illustrating comments, or answer questions. If the latter, then I will leave you to leap to denigrating and completely erroneous conclusions.

  4. Smarticus,

    I do think I have answers to my posting. Here is the handbook on this method:


    What is seen in this one clip is contained in this workbook. If you google "whole brain teaching", many youtube videos pop up and one can see the same method used on the kindergarten, primary, middle and high school levels.

    I have no quibble that children are learning material. The issue is how they are learning and why this method is being used. If it is true that making your dear teacher happy is paramount for students and parents, that is nothing less than emotional blackmail. What are you teaching children about relationships? That marks on the blackboard are reserved if your teacher is happy? That you are parroting the right answer and making the correct gestures? The innate desire of learning is the satisfaction it gives the student, NOT the teacher.

    Teachers are public servants. I certainly hope those in the private sector jobs are happy with their charges so they can perform their jobs satisfactorily. Do you understand what a bogus "rule" this is? I want my child's teacher to provide adequate instruction. It is up to my child to either do the work, or not. He will receive the grade based on his understanding and output, regardless of the teacher's feelings.

    If a social worker visited a family and saw this rote and parroting behavior expected by a mother/father from a child, I would hazard to guess the social worker would consider it cultish and report the family to his/her higher ups.

    Thank you for giving me your opinion and hoping to enlighten me, however, unless you can illustrate how your methods in whole brain teaching don't rely on groupthink behavior and having the ultimate goal of making a teacher happy, I will base my opinion on what is published by the movement itself.

  5. This Class room management system is disturbing on many levels, but two other things stand out and really disturb me about this. I have watched multiple videos at various grade levels up to and including college.

    First of all, I am appalled at the use of peer pressure to control behavior. This entire system is based on peer pressure to handle students who "displease" dear teacher. We raised our 5 children and taught them NOT to give into peer pressure, parents fight the issue of peer pressure constantly in raising their children. This system is all about peer pressure and training children to engage in Group Think. This is cultish at best. How does this transition after 16 years plus of education into the workforce setting? Are employers going to have to resort to 10 finger woooooo's and groans to reward and reprimand employees? Are Peers at work going to help discipline fellow employees?

    I am also concerned that system is reflective of a failed system of common core standards and standardized testing and was developed to help teachers simply cope with the boredom of teaching to tests and the resulting loss of classroom control. The kids are bored out of their minds with the rote learning and memorization required to teach to tests. Can we just admit all of the Goals 2000, No Child Left Behind and Early Childhood education crap is just that, crap and a miserable failure. Let's get back to letting teachers teach and children learning to love the adventure of learning new things and exploring their interests through the wonderful world of learning.

    The best teachers are able to open up a world of discovery for their students and encourage children to dig deeper explore their own talents and shore up where they are weak.

    Teaching today is not about the children, it is about the stakeholders and what they want. This method is a means to that end. It is not about the children or about learning. It is about mind control and managing the human capital of the stake holders. It is disgusting and alarming.

  6. Let me clear up a couple of things quickly.

    One: Rule 5

    This rule is not the ultimate goal, and many who are commenting on it have misunderstood the purpose. The idea here is that for most of the kids it is a silly rule that makes them laugh. My kids find it hilarious. The only time it is used seriously is when you have a student who wants to disrupt the class and is trying to force a power struggle. At that point this rule can be used to derail the power struggle. The idea is that the disruptive student will not have a legitimate foothold for a power struggle.

    Two: Classroom management and peer pressure.

    I would absolutely disagree that there is anything wrong with using peer pressure to help manage the classroom. This approach lets the kids handle the peer pressure. If I say "Rule Two" and my kids repeat that it is they who are reminding the student who is not focused to re-engage. As I have told them it lets them stand between the student who is out of line and me having to take more drastic measures. If they redirect a peer I do not need to embarrass that peer in class by calling their name or writing it on the board, or take more drastic steps like a phone call home, or a detention. The kids have agreed with that as a better method, and one much to their preference.

    Three: Robots

    Give me a break! You are watching videos that are ten minutes or less out of a hour long classes. These videos are intended as illustrative guides for teachers who already know at least something about the method to isolate and illustrate specific techniques. The whole class does not look like this. With limited time we have to show as much as we can. Critical thinking, and discovery are very much a part of WBT classrooms.

  7. Smarticus! Why would we throw rocks at someone or some idea that does nothing but brainwash generations into compliantly accepting instruction, without questioning, so that they can compliantly accept leaders who will use and abuse them, take advantage of them, lie to them, and manipulate them? Perhaps we all need to be able to unquestionably accept the direction of authority figures as they lead us over the cliff? Why would it benefit a culture to have a populace of mush minded sheep who cannot critically decipher whether to accept any direction given to them and not know why it is important or not? If the public school system can effectively exercise this form of mind control, then it will be no problem for government to mandate higher taxes, take away personal liberties, and command unquestioning loyalty. And it all starts in the public, government run schools. How convenient. I'm with Van, ... down twinkle.

  8. Keeping it clean and constructive albeit five months late--- If Smarticus was truly earnest in his desire to "clear up things," you'd think he'd tell folks he's Jeff Battle, the North Carolina Whole Brain Teacher Director who actually wrote that "Rule Five is nuclear power in your hands!" crap. http://www.wholebrainteaching.com/index.php/whole-brain-teching/first-steps/five-classroom-rules.html

    Check out this newspaper article about these Whole Brain hucksters, Battle (Smarticus) included. http://www.ohio.com/news/local-news/teachers-learn-ways-to-keep-students-attention-but-are-brain-claims-valid-1.319731

  9. Anonymous, 11/5/12:

    You might just very well be correct. Here's Mr. Battle's response in a Whole Brain teaching blog:

    SmarticusSeptember 3, 2012 8:17 PM

    Make sure you focus on the Core 4 techniques to start with: Class-Yes!, Teach-OK!, Mirror!, and Scoreboard. Once they have these you can use the Core 4 to literally teach anything.

    Ask if you need any help. See you on the forums.

    Jeff Battle
    Whole Brain Teacher/Trainer
    Executive Board Member

    from http://moretime2teach.blogspot.com/2012/09/whole-brain-teaching.html

    Thanks for the heads up!


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