Teaching And The Four-Minute Rule

What is the most important part of any lesson?

The first four minutes.

After that, it doesn’t matter.

Game over.

Well, if we are applying what Steve McDermott says then those first 240 seconds are all your class will really remember so you’d better make them count and put everything into your intro.

Steve is the author of ‘How to Be a Complete and Utter Failure in Life, Work & Everything: 44 1/2 Steps to Lasting Underachievement‘ and he’s learnt the hard way. 

Steve explains that when he has been working away for up to 2 weeks at a time, by the time he get’s back home, he’s usually tired and irritable from the journey.

The thing is, his wife let’s their children stay up to see their dad. Nothing wrong with that but Steve is shattered and he’s not really in the mood for 3 kids to jump on him as he walks through the door.

His kids would be naturally over the moon to see their dad but Steve just wanted to collapse and relax and his reaction wouldn’t always be the best: “Kids, please just let me get through the door. Let me put my case down. Let me get my jacket off. Come on, give me a break, I’ve been travelling for hours.”

His wife reminded Steve that there would be a time in the future when his kids wouldn’t be bothered whether their dad was home or not.

Steve decided to change tack and thought “What would the best dad in the world do?”

So when he came back from a trip the next time he opened the door and dived on the kids, giving them lots of love and told them how great it was to see them.

What he noticed was that after about 4 minutes the kids got fed up and went off to do whatever they were doing before.

The principle behind the four-minute rule is that the first 4 minutes of every interaction are the most important.

Okay, from a teaching point of view, the whole lesson matters but it is definitely the case that the first few minutes decide what level of engagement and interest follows. We’ve got to make those minutes matter!

The ‘four-minute rule’ is best explained in the following video by the man himself.

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