Large, mature oak and locust trees arched over the booths of the farmer’s market in Lincoln Park, Chicago. I tried to picture what these trees looked like when they were a hundred years younger. The gentle September sun brought out all the colors of oranges, apples, baby clothes, carriages and chatting mothers all arrayed on the bright green grass, and the still, blue sky brought people, grass, food, and trees together with the bricks, glass, concrete and cars of the city.
The earth meditated as I walked up North Clark Street past all these blessings toward the intellectual epicenter of an educational revolution still in progress Continue reading
My seatmate on a plane to Chicago the other day was Frank, and as you can imagine, we talked about schooling and education. After a while he said, a little timidly: “Well, I don’t think school is for everyone, do you?”
I had to think.
My first reaction was that school should be for everyone. But then I thought, why? People go into a wide variety of endeavors and the straight academic fare of school was often not very helpful. Not only was it not very helpful, but it also made some feel valueless, stupid–like losers. Frank had just said so. He was a real estate investor, and had learned all the mathematics, the problem solving skills and the creative genius one needs for his business after school. In fact, he had to overcome what school had taught him.
To be successful what does Frank need to do? Continue reading
At dinner one evening, when my daughter, Lizzie, was in first grade, she said: “You know how some teachers just let you play? Well, I want to know stuff, and that’s why I like Ms. Lexton; she teaches us stuff.” [I hope you read this, Cheryl]
Cheryl was a brand new teacher out of Teacher’s College in NYC when she walked in the door of my school and asked the receptionist if there were any teaching jobs. The receptionist called me, and I invited her into my office. When Cheryl said she had gotten an A+ in her student teaching, I decided to hire her.
No mistakes here! Continue reading
Today: thank you, Susan Heim, for this lovely review of The Genius in Children.
“…our number-one job as parents and educators is to notice the children in our care and to delight in them.” — Rick Ackerly, The Genius in Children
This line from the Introduction to Rick Ackerly’s book, The Genius in Children: Bringing Out the Best in Your Child, accurately sums up his philosophy on child-rearing gleaned from 40 years of working with students, parents and teachers as a father, school principal and consultant. When he speaks of cultivating the “genius” in our children, he’s not talking about raising their test scores or making sure they’re prepared to attend an Ivy League college. Rather, finding a child’s genius Continue reading
Last week a key line in Daphne’s mother’s email to me was: “…parents are trying to be the best parents they can be (and can be quite unforgiving of themselves for the mistakes they make.)”
The very same day Daryl’s mother sent me this: “rick, heard you loud and clear on daryl’s first day. when i asked him what he was most looking forward to in second grade, he responded ‘my mistakes.’ I kid you not. It really happened! :-)” Continue reading
After reading “Daphne goes to School” (last week’s post) Daphne’s mother wrote me a long email which she concluded with: “I guess the question I am asking is: “How do we encourage exploration and confidence without leaving a child unprepared for the judgment and criticism they’ll have to deal with later on? And at what point does “education” end and “the real world” begin? Or is your idea that an environment of experimentation and exploration early on will create a confident, centered person who isn’t shaken by the competition that will come?” Continue reading
It was a hot day on the upper west side of Manhattan. I had just dropped my freshman stepdaughter off in her dorm room at Columbia University and was experiencing a rare and marvelous moment of directionlessness. Daphne, age five, stood at Broadway and 114th at a table with her father and held a sign saying “Lemonade 50 cents.”
I said, “Wonderful. Lemonade. Perfect thing on this hot day. How much does it cost?”
“Fifty cents,” Daphne replied with a smile.
“Fifty cents. That’s cheep. Can I have a glass?”
“Certainly,” said Daphne.
I gave her a five-dollar bill, and she reached into the zippered purse around her neck, giving me back two quarters.
“But I gave you a five,” I said. Continue reading