It’s the morning of June 30, 2010, the last day of my eight-year tenure as Head of Children’s Day School and the end of 36 years as school principal. As I walk through the empty halls of the school the faces and names of hundreds of children come back to me, and their parents, too. The teachers who teach in these rooms, and who used to teach in these rooms, they all crowd into my mind. On my way into the garden to say goodbye to the sheep and chickens–the only beings I haven’t said goodbye to yet–I hear the mournful mourning dove. Perfect. And as I walk back through the silent yard
Will bribery get my child to read?
“What’s the situation?” I replied.
“My daughter is reading already. In fact she loves to read, but she only reads what she likes to read.”
I was speechless for a second with three thoughts fighting to
I am thrilled to introduce my first book, The Genius in Children: Bringing Out the Best in Your Child. It represents forty-some years of helping parents and teachers educate children. Since education is a science, there are principles to follow and disciplines to practice; the book identifies many of these. However, in so far as education, like living, is also an art, this book and this blog are attempts to spark creative thinking about education rather than attempts at definitive solutions.
“Is My Child A Genius?” is the wrong question. Your child has a genius; every person does. The question is: How can I help this genius lead my child out into the world gracefully and effectively?
First, we must return to the original meaning of genius: “The tutelary spirit of a person, place, or institution.” There are many other words for this spirit. To the ancient Greeks kharakter was the imprint that the gods put on the soul at birth. I stand with James Hillman who says that muse, psyche, soul, calling and character are all different manifestations of the same thing: the you that is becoming. Elizabeth Gilbert thinks of genius as “out there.” I like to think of it as inside us. It doesn’t matter. Maybe it lives under the bed. Our job is to act as if it exists.
This is what education is all about and schooling is one of the many things children do to become educated. It is the obligation of parents and teachers to make sure that schooling occurs in the context of education.
What can we do to help? See their academic struggles in a long term context—they will learn how to read, you know. Support them through all their struggles without owning them. Avoid rescuing. Respect the challenges they choose. Value mistakes and conflict as some of the best sources of learning. Maintain boundaries tirelessly as they make their decisions and suffer the consequences. Cultivate the courage to face fears—your own especially. Play position. Love unconditionally. Most of all, believe in the untapped complexity and power in all children.
I wrote The Genius in Children with the hope that it will help each of us notice—or at least catch glimpses of—that beautiful, brilliant, ineffable, unique genius that each of us has. My dream is that we will all come closer together in respect for the infinite variety and complex diversity that make us all the same.
I am deeply grateful for the students, parents, teachers and other educators of Children’s Day School who unknowingly helped me write this book. I am indebted to all the great educators I have known as well as to all the enlightening conversations I continue to have with so many people. A special thanks to my family, my children, and my wife Victoria, who knowingly helped me write this book.
Please join in the conversation and have fun raising children; it’s the only way.
Our graduating class went to lunch with me last Friday. I can’t imagine a more delightful group of 14-year-olds to be caught in a restaurant with. You’d think that after all these years together they might have run out of things to talk about, but of course not. The intensity