Parents and Teachers: Who are the Educators?

Twenty years ago Delanie Easton, an Oaklander who was running for the position of Superintendent of Schools for the State of California said to a room of a thousand people: “If someone asked me, ‘Delanie, which would you rather have: one million dollars or one hour of parent involvement?’ I would say ‘One hour of parent involvement!’”

Really, Delanie? Not me.

I mean, parent involvement is good, but in a school, teachers are responsible for what kids learn, how they treat one another, and whether or not they love to go to school. Come to think of it, who is responsible for creating the conditions in which a parent would want to get involved? Think what one could do with $1,000,000. Think of the teacher salaries. Think of the student/teacher ratio.

But it was 1991, and it was California.

Five months ago, educators, parents and community leaders gathered in Decatur to talk about education at a meeting that came to be called “Roundtable 1.” One educator said, “I am tired of hearing that the problem is parent involvement. Look, parents are giving us the best they can. It is our job to take the kids where we find them and give them the best that we can.” There was general agreement. Continue reading


Meditation on the Equinox

Yesterday, on the return leg of our evening walk. Victoria and I saw a dark thing sticking up from the rail of the fence that lines our driveway.

“What’s that? Is that an owl? Or a hawk? Or….?”

“Can’t be an owl. Must be a hawk. Amazing.”

But the most amazing thing is that neither Victoria, nor I, nor the hawk changed what we were doing. We kept walking, and it kept perching. As we passed, Victoria could have reached out and touched it with a yardstick. Continue reading

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In Education Failure IS an Option: New Myths for Successful Kids and Better Schools

In Education failure IS an option, and a pretty good one at that.

Fear of failure is not a big issue for most kids going off to first grade. Their life is not yet framed with questions of success and failure. Even after a year in kindergarten where their mission was to make friends, create, do fun things, and learn as much as they can, the concept of failure isn’t really on the brain, much.

Unfortunately, most schools try to change this. Our culture is obsessed with success and failure in the context of a pyramid model of society, Continue reading

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How Do You Get Your Child to Love Learning?

Well, it’s a trick question. Your child automatically does love learning. The question really is, “How do we get him to love to learn what we want him to learn?” It should be the job school to get kids to love school work, but what if they are not doing their job?

When a child is not motivated by school work, getting that to change is tricky business—it’s not hard; it’s just tricky. Here is one success story with a few moments of parental brilliance that might inspire others to be creative about how to get our children to love doing school work on their own (based on a year’s worth of email reporting on Daniel’s progress through fifth grade.)

Email from Daniel’s Father on September 28

Daniel makes no bones about not liking school and only being interested in video games (specifically “Zelda” games–Daniel is in love with Zelda). Continue reading

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