Tips and Advice for Students, Teachers, and Parents

Note: This list was compiled in 1990 by me and originally posted in 1995 on LD Resources. The ideas still make good sense and may be even more useful in our TV and smartphone obsessed world. With thanks to the now defunct Whole Earth Catalog, CoEvolution Quarterly, and The Whole Earth Review.


Pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students. Pull everything out of yourself. Work hard. Then work harder.

Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.

Learn by trial and error, and don’t avoid the errors. Consider everything an experiment.

Learning doesn’t happen in class, it happens when you get home and look at the wall. Don’t forget to make time for looking at walls.

Be self-disciplined.

Be a self-advocate.

Learn from your mistakes. There is no win and no fail, there’s only honest effort.

Assume that others are always doing their best.

Work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things. Worrying about work doesn’t get it done, it only makes getting started harder.

Get good at something other than school-related work (like skateboarding or cooking).

Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.Subscribe to many magazines, the more pictures the better. Don’t feel bad about not reading them cover to cover, just have them around and read what interests you, even if it’s just one article.

It’s the process, not the product that counts, because you can use it again and again and it transfers.

Don’t do school-related work under pressure. Allow lots of extra time for things that are hard, and for everything else, too.

Learning opportunities are everywhere, not just in academic settings. The more stuff you do, the more you learn. But, don’t overdo it and spread yourself too thin.

Read anything you can get your hands on. Comic books involve decoding just as great literature does.

Read billboards and road signs.

Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes.

Learn how to touch-type.

Write lots of letters.

Learn to read and use maps.

Learn to read and use indexes.

Learn to use a library.

Learn to cook and deal with food.

Watch movies, regularly.

Learn to ask questions without feeling stupid.

Travel whenever and wherever you can.

Save everything; it might come in handy later.

Give others some slack; it makes life easier.

Give yourself some slack; it makes life easier.

Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s your life.


Pull everything out of your students.

Extend yourself.

Be creative.

Don’t assess a student’s capabilities based on his or her I.Q. test scores. There’s more to people than test scores.

Don’t be scared to make a mess (mistakes) in front of students. If learning takes place through modeling, you must model the process of working things out, from scratch, mistakes and all. Few teachers do this, more should.

Assume that others are always doing their best.

Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s your life.


Be there, but don’t smother kids. Don’t be a “helicopter parent.” Not enough interest is neglect; too much involvement can smother and enable.

Keep the pressure low.

Assume that others are always doing their best.

Learning how to read and write takes a lot of time and work. Make sure you give your kids enough time and space for them to learn.

Make sure kids practice reading and writing every day. Don’t let them miss a day for anything. Sit on them, but not too hard.

Make sure there’s a World Book Encyclopedia in the house. Any year is okay. Buy it used. Using an encyclopedia is very different from using the internet. Make sure you have both.

Learning takes place after the fact, while your kid is looking at the wall, not while he/she’s in a classroom at school. When they get home, give them the time and space to look at walls.

Don’t romanticize your past too much, kids resent it and it probably wasn’t as good as you think it was.

Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s your life.

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