How the ‘art of understanding’ reduced negativity among students in one school

High school students getting along.

Posted by on October 29, 2015

I recently received the following email from a high school teacher somewhere in the United States. All identifying information has been omitted for privacy reasons.

“I’m the Sociology/Psychology teacher here at [school name] High School in [city, state] and I just wanted share with you the impact that your presentation had on my students.

I have students who come from every socio-economic level, multiple ethnicities, and even transfers from other schools. Needless to say, not everyone gets along and sometimes violent exchanges take place. My classes were covering Max Weber’s ideas of understanding and rationalization. Weber stated we need to understand the people in our lives (good and bad) because they are the influence on our souls.

A little deep, I know – But I was trying to tackle the negative exchanges amongst the students and see I could create a new [school name], not through our differences but through pride in our school and community.

After watching your 14 minute presentation my class of 38 scrapped the rest of my lesson and we talked for an HOUR – that’s a long time for students – about how we could improve our relationships in the school.

I took a step back in awe of how someone else’s words can impact people. So even though you’re not standing in front of them in person, you are impacting students that you’ve never even seen. And I thought you should know that.

Continue doing what you’re doing. Have a great day. I wish our entire student body could hear and see your presentation.

It is absolutely a privilege to have the opportunity to affect so many young people all over the world, and I thank him/her for sharing the experience with me.

You can watch the TEDx talk for yourself on this page. If you have shared my message with your students or colleagues, I would love to hear about your experience and the ensuing discussion.

For those who are interested, I would be honored to speak with your students, parents, and educators. More information on my live speaking engagements here.

With love,



*Disclaimer: This post makes no claims in any way that Brian’s speaking engagements, TEDx talk, or any other materials will reduce violence in your school. It is simply one teacher’s experience, in one particular high school, with one particular group of students.

Brian Miller

Brian Miller

Brian Miller is a Connecticut youth motivational speaker who travels the country sharing his message and magic with high school and college students . His TEDx talk "How to Magically Connect with Anyone" is one of the most popular in history.
Brian Miller

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