My wife, Laura Forehand, is a very experienced teacher and competent in Whole Brain Teaching. It’s a classroom management methodology that is very effective at engaging the student and making the learning environment effective. She learned it one summer by reading the book by Chris Biffle called “Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids. If you want more information, the best place to start might be the Facebook Page or the website. I always ask Laura if I can come to class with her and she declines – she thinks I’ll be disruptive.
My favorite thing about Whole Brain Teaching is the the technique, “Your still cool.”
The way I understand it, is that it is a response to someone giving the wrong answer. Instead of laughing or another student correcting them, they simply say, “You’re still cool.” I’ve heard them say it on a podcast when another adults gets tripped up or forgets what the were saying. It’s a simple little phrase to create what they call a “no fear classroom.”
The other day, on the assembly line, someone messed up and I taught them this phrase. First, I had to explain it, then when they messed up and said, “I’m sorry,” then I said “You’re still cool.” They smiled.
What society and religion has taught us to do is correct people so that we make sure we have the right answers. So a teacher might respond to a wrong answer with, “Could anyone give me the right answer.” That totally demolishes the kid that got it wrong and moves on the with the quest for the truth. Before we do that we need to stop and tend to the one that just got bludgeoned by their mistake or wrong answer.
The reason we don’t speak up at work or try things we don’t know how to do is because a part of us remembers what it’s like to be embarrassed and feel shame for getting the answer wrong. So, we spend a lot of our lives just trying not to fail and doing only what is expected of us.
If we are ever going to get better and heal some of our trauma, we have to stop shaming each other. It may give us some immediate results, but it also creates bigger problems down the road. Religion has always proposed a theology or right answer. It doesn’t overtly shame us, but the pressure to be right often pushes us into very small corners defending the things we already know.
Adventure requires us to risk not knowing the prescribed answers and giving up some of our comfort. When we are trying to learn, it’s inevitable that we will make mistakes, but we don’t want to shame ourselves back into the small world of defending what they already know. We want to encourage each other to venture on out into the wide world of discovery. Maybe we should try some whole-brain teaching vocabulary.
“I saw that you didn’t quite know what you were doing, but you’re still cool.”
“I know you are embarrassed because of what you said, but you’re still cool.”
“I tripped over that stripe on the floor before too, you’re still cool.”
I have never said “you’re still cool” to someone and they didn’t smile. In Junior High, I probably said “you’re an idiot.” As an adult, I might have busted in with the right answer. Often I argue with them to help them understand. None of those things are life-giving to someone that may be just trying to take a risk and is now hurt.
Let me just say to the reader, “You’re still cool. Keep risking being embarrassed to speak up. You’re still cool when you say something totally wrong. Keep trying, you won’t make as many mistakes next time; but, even if you do. You’re still cool.”
The game of life is not a war to eliminate those that are weaker or less informed than us. It’s an adventure we are on where we could all benefit by helping each other (especially when we stumble. I don’t want us to continue to struggle, but when we do, it’s helpful to encourage each other.
As the website states, “Errors have no effect upon PIC (Permanent Inner Coolness).” This is the goal.
We have a misconception that encouraging others might make them weak. Let me suggest the opposite. When we encourage, we put courage in them. Maybe if we nurtured our Permanent Internal Coolness, we would stop traumatizing each other and be even more able to affect change in ourselves and those around us.
Let me just say it again, “You’re still cool!”
Be where you are, Be who you are,
Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and The Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!