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The Whiteboard Jungle: Behavior is just as important as good grades

January 02, 2014|By Brian Crosby

One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was from my wife, a box set of the classic TV show “Leave It to Beaver.”

While the show is a situational comedy, what attracts me to it is the climatic moment that occurs in each episode when the father, Ward Cleaver, has a serious conversation with his boys, Wally and Theodore aka The Beaver.

As the slow, serious music swells up on the soundtrack, the father gives parenting advice on a life lesson the boys have to learn. In fact, Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher, creators of the show, used their own adventures in parenthood as inspiration, which explains the truthfulness that resonates in the program.

When you peel away the silly jokes and the bad laugh track, there remains a core of sound values.

If you watch these teachable moments today as a parent, you may recognize them from your own life. Or maybe not.


How much time do parents invest in their children’s moral education? Not as much as before.

As I watch a show that is nearly 60 years old, I am struck about how a sitcom like that would not be produced today with all the vulgarity and overt sexual overtones that is part and parcel of nearly every comedy on TV, and how the lack of such entertainment, highly satirized as “goody-goody,” is a reflection on the moral decline in our society, or, at the very least, the perverted obsession with people acting badly.

Like gawking at car accidents, we can’t seem to tear ourselves away from the twerking Miley Cyruses of the world. Even recent film releases that have earned critical acclaim such as “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” glamorize morally bereft individuals.

People crave entertainment that brings out the worst in people.

Look at how many of the news stories of 2013 revolve around people acting badly such as the story of a football coach who took his middle-school aged boys to “Hooters” to celebrate.

It used to be that children were taught right from wrong by their parents before attending school. Now, we have kids misbehaving at school with parents counting on the teachers to straighten them out. Things have become turned inside out.

According to Harvard professor Richard Weissbourd, polls show that “70% of public school parents want schools to teach ‘strict standards of right and wrong.’”

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