The author of a best-selling book called “Chicken Soup for the Soul” dished up a big helping to teachers in Spokane Friday.
The recipe was seasoned with lots of positive messages and a round of hugs in the audience.
“What we are doing is helping people see the beauty inside of them,” said author Jack Canfield.
Teachers are met in the morning by children who aren’t getting enough attention at home, so teachers need to tell students how important they are as individuals, he said.
Trained as a teacher and counselor, Canfield said his studies show that parents spend as little as 12 minutes a day in one-on-one interaction with their children.
“One of the things we have to do as educators is provide what’s not being provided at home for some students.”
Canfield was invited to Spokane by Dr. James Slack, a South Hill orthodontist who said he heard Canfield at a convention in Florida last year and was captivated by his message.
Slack paid Canfield’s $10,000 lecture fee, and Spokane School District 81 provided Shadle Park High School’s auditorium for the seminar. Schoolteachers and administrators from the area filled the roomy auditorium.
Canfield spent part of the seminar pitching his books and tapes. Everyone who attended received an order form from Canfield’s company in Culver City, Calif.
Not everyone was thinking positively about Canfield.
Bonnie Murphy, a parent in the Mead School District, said Canfield promotes dubious psychotherapy techniques that have no place in the classroom.
She said teachers should “stick to reading, writing and math. Stick to the basics, and then maybe our children can learn something.”
Her view is backed up by a group called the Washington Parents Coalition for Academic Excellence. The coalition posted a flier at the Spokane Teacher’s Credit Union Friday warning that Canfield promotes relaxation techniques that border on hypnosis.
Midway through the session, Canfield had his audience stand and give back massages to one another, and then hugs.
He said people need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance and a dozen hugs a day for growth.
“This guy must be from California,” said one man in the audience.