Archive | August, 2011

Blessings on the First Day of School

On the first day of school, Peter had had a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast. His teeth were brushed, his lunch and snack were in his backpack, and his favorite shirt was on his back. As his father scurried around the kitchen, he talked to Peter saying things like, “Have you got your […]

Procrustean Education

Procrustes was a blacksmith who had his house by the side of the sacred way between Athens and Eleusis in ancient Greece. Being a friendly, hospitable guy, though, Procrustes also ran an inn. When tired travelers came down the road, he would sometimes invite them in to spend the night. The rooms in the Inn were equipped with special […]

Teaching Empathy at Home and School. Can Schools Teach Empathy?

Last week a parent asked,  “Can schools teach empathy?” Here’s my answer. Empathy isn’t taught. The human brain is wired for empathy (mirror neurons). Adults shape an environment; that environment shapes the child’s empathy. So schools can’t not educate a child’s empathy. If they don’t do it well, they do it poorly. Technorati Tags: Authority, building […]

Vulnerability on the First Day of School: Weakness, Worry, Worthiness, and Seven Ways to Ensure Success

On the first day of school Leila’s mother said: “Leila was looking forward to school all summer. Then two nights ago she started getting anxious.” I know Leila struggles with “giftedness.” Nonetheless, I asked, “What was she anxious about?” “Will my friends be in my classroom this year?” All children are completely different, each with […]

Great Teachers Focus on Education, Not Tests.

A few years ago I taught a class of fourth- and fifth-graders in order to give the teachers some time to plan together. It was the easiest and best teaching I ever did, and a great example of how a great teacher doesn’t do it themselves but rather creates the conditions for the students to […]

Results of The Willful Child Caption Contest

There was no winner in “The Willful Child” caption contest (July 27th’s post). Interestingly, (but not surprisingly I suppose) there was a complete diversity of opinion, and actually the comments keep coming in (keep them coming). But the theme is clear: Learning is something I do, not something someone will do to me. If you […]