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A Hero Has Died, Let's Learn From His Life - John Wooden

What an amazing man. What an amazing life. What an amazing example to our young people.

John Wooden, the legendary Wizard of Westwood, died today, June 4, 2010. He was born in 1910, and in his 99 years on earth he found his purpose, lived it to the fullest, and left a lasting mark on the world.

John Wooden is someone your students need to know. I would encourage you to consider how you can bring him into your classroom and use him as a way to teach your students about life, about loving, and about success. Here are some resources that you might consider:

  1. The Pyramid of Success - Visit Coach Wooden's website to learn about his amazing Pyramid.
  2. Ray Moore has blogged about ways to use the Pyramid of Success in your classroom. Read his ideas and try them in your classroom:
  3. They Call Me Coach - In this autobiography John Wooden shares his wisdom and philosophy. Help your students learn that there is nothing more important than how they conduct themselves. Help them learn that they should never let what they can't do get in the way of what they can do.
  4. The John Wooden Pyramid of Success by Neville Johnson - Author Neville Johnson goes in depth about the Pyramid of Success and explains how to apply its lessons to life.
  5. A great story of devotion - John Wooden's love and devotion for his wife are an example our students need to see.
  6. Values, Victory and Peace of Mind - This DVD will give your students a chance to hear John Wooden's wisdom and philosophies straight from his mouth.
  7. Character Agendas from Premier - Premier Agendas has a line of student planners with the words and philosophies of John Wooden built into them.
  8. I love the way my friend Ray Moore works John Wooden into his 9th grade English class. Ray's students have to do a research paper on a person. They have a deadline to pick their person. Students who have not chosen a person by a certain date are required to use John Wooden. Ray then gives them many of the resources listed above. Brilliant! The students most in need of Coach Wooden's wisdom end up doing an entire research paper on him.
  9. Teach your students about the Pyramid of Success. Then throughout the year analyze things in terms of the Pyramid. You can have them analyze historical figures - which blocks were they strong in? You can have them analyze current events - which block was missing from this event? You can have them analyze their own lives - growth in which block could make the biggest impact on your life?
So spend some time getting to know - or getting reacquainted with - John Wooden. Then begin to think about ways that you can use his life and wisdom to teach your students more than just content. Your students will thank you and their lives will be better off because of it.

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Comment by Scott Habeeb on June 11, 2010 at 12:25pm
Marsha'l - I'm a little envious. I would loved to have had an opportunity meet John Wooden. I think the ultimate compliment to him is the fact that while is basketball accomplishments are unparalleled, what people are saying set him apart was his wisdom, character, and humility. What a way to be remembered!
Comment by Marsha'l Westfall-Haessig on June 5, 2010 at 8:24pm
I had the privilege of teaching for three years at UCLA and met Coach....absolutely amazing with a depth of understanding about students, whether or not they played basketball, that I feel is truly rare. I've used his principles in my graduate classes and in the classroom as "life lessons". I shall miss him, but I know he will continue to touch others as long as we continue to "pass it on."

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