Aims and Goals are Different

If our goal is academic achievement, what is our aim?

In her New York Times piece “Playing to Learn” Susan Engel writes:

… educators should remember a basic precept of modern developmental science: developmental precursors don’t always resemble the skill to which they are leading. For example, saying the alphabet does not particularly help children learn to read. But having extended and complex conversations during toddlerhood does. Simply put, what children need to do in elementary school is not to cram for high school or college, but to develop ways of thinking and behaving that will lead to valuable knowledge and skills later on.

What does a school look like when it gets this right? Here is an example: Continue reading

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Listen to Your Genius

After returning from a stint in Japan teaching English ten years ago, Paul Greenwood found himself walking on Ocean Beach in San Francisco looking for inspiration as he pondered what to do with the rest of his life. Suddenly, feeling something on his right thigh he looked down to see a Jack Russell Terrier looking up at him. Having loved dogs since he was a child, Paul bent down to stroke his head, and turned to look for an owner. Sure enough he saw a woman walking toward him.

“He likes you,” the woman said with a smile. Continue reading

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Teacher as Learner

The direction that I would give to all teachers is: Watch the child, watch his attitude of attention. Is it spontaneous? Is the light of pleasure in his eyes? Is interest the motive which controls him?

–Colonel Francis W. Parker

Maggie Doyne’s story shows that self-actualization is not the end game (as I once thought when I studied Abraham Maslow years ago.) Self-actualization is a quality of experience that each of us can have, and we can have it at any age.

At the age of 18, Maggie launched herself off into the world with only what she could carry in her backpack. In the course of the next five years she discovered depths of human suffering and joy she didn’t know existed, built an orphanage and a school for 200 children, and “…got my passion back to live and to learn and to be human on this earth.” Continue reading

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