One such speaker is Flip Flippen. I first heard of Flippen when working for the Carroll County (MD) public schools. The previous year, the district had bought whole hog into Flippen's "Capturing Kids' Hearts" program. (Thankfully, the school where I worked refused to sign on, despite huge pressure from the district.)
Like most "education consultants" (motivational speakers) Flippen is not, and has never been, an educator. His claim to fame is in speaking to businesses (for a good fee). In typical motivational speaker fashion, Flippen's new book, The Flip Side bears jacket endorsements from NFL greats like Terry Bradshaw to MLB greats like Nolan Ryan (neither of which, I think, are known as extraordinary business men).
What is significant about all of this is that two years after the Carroll County School System sunk millions into Flippen's program, they quietly dropped it. (Flippen's frenzy-starting book "Capturing Kids' Hearts" also appears to be out of print according to amazon.com.) A colleague at the time described a Flippen workshop he had attended recently as a "come to Jesus" revival of sorts. It was quite systemically designed to make the participant feel good and excited (Flippen's got an enigmatic speaking style similar to Tony Robbins). My colleague, I think accurately, suspected that Flippen was able to exdrcise his charisma on some very gullible school-board members who, unlike business persons, don't have to scruitinize what they spend money on, as the money is not hard earned.
Anyhow, what made me want to write about this trend - and it does not stop with Flippen! - is a blog-entry I came across, bearing an eerily familiar description of Flippen's education seminars:
I went to the workshop in August, and Capturing Kids Hearts was far worse than I expected. I have written letters to both my state senator, and representative asking them to investigate this group and pass a law giving teachers protection from some of the tactics used in the workshop...
I had jokingly referred to co-workers having “drunk the kool-aid” because of their devotion to “Capturing Kids Hearts”. It wasn’t too far off the mark. The tactics used by the presenter reminded me greatly of cult recruiters or Amway/timeshare sales people. Their leader is the savior of schools...
This is the second time in 5 years a workshop did this the other was required this was strongly recommended.
As an educator, I have had to endure many motivational speakers pontificate on the strength of their system - the latest was Brian Mendler - and I am simply shocked at how gullible these school systems are. For-profit folks like Flippen and Mendler can make a hell of a lot of money pushing their product to school districts, who giddily sink millions into books (every teacher at the Mendler seminar was provided with two of his books, paid for by the county, who has better things to spend money on).
It is simply a shame that there is such an admixture of profit-seeking motivational speakers with financially unconcerned and unconstrained (and fad-loving) educational bureaucrats.