Written by:

Holly Macdonald


December 27, 2011

OK, I admit it, I’m one of those people that watches A Christmas Story annually and can quote dialogue from the movie. It’s legendary in my house, in spite of the fact my English husband doesn’t get it (but then again, he watched Benny Hill and I don’t get that). As I watched it this year, I found myself wondering why it has such appeal and thought there must be some real parallels to life.  If this were a parenting blog, I’d put in my parenting lessons, but it is a learning blog, so I’ll put in learning lessons!

Lesson #1: Persistence pays off – Ralphie tries many ways to convince his parents that the BB Gun would be the ideal gift and in the end, he gets what he wishes for.

Even when everyone tells you that you’ll shoot your eye out, don’t give up. Remember, Ralphie *does* shoot his eye out in the end, but it isn’t a disaster after all.

Lesson #2 – Multiple roads to success – Ralphie realizes that there are people in his ecosystem that may influence gift buying beyond his parents – his long-suffering teacher and of course the big man himself: Santa.

When dealing with a learning challenge, remember to not put all your eggs in one basket, but include multiple methods. You never know which one will prevail.

Lesson #3 – Rewards are motivating – now we can’t all win lamps for a Major Award like “The Old Man”, but he sure was pleased with himself when he won

Provide your learners with something meaningful for their efforts, but remember not everyone likes the same thing (that lamp was deemed “the ugliest lamp I have ever seen in my entire life!” by Mother), so try to provide more personalized options.

Lesson #4 – Gimmicks fizzle – Ralphie was so excited to decode his first secret message from Annie’s radio broadcast only to discover it was a thinly veiled marketing ploy, or what he says is “a crummy commercial”.

Don’t do that to your learners, lure them in with something exciting only to deliver boring commercials, it’ll backfire in the end.

Lesson #5 – Planning doesn’t always work out. Remember when the 785 Bumpus hounds from next door somehow get in and eat the turkey and the family has to go out for Chinese food on Christmas?

If your best laid plans are destroyed, do something different and embrace it. That Chinese turkey turned out to be pretty memorable after all.

Regardless of whether your watch the movie or not, I hope the lessons are useful and I wish you all the best for 2012.