Building Strong Brains: The Real Reason Schools Need Environmental Education

One day second grader Miranda said: “I was in the garden looking at the tomatoes with Patrice and Josh, and we saw a wasp tackling a fly.  Then it tore the fly’s head off and flew away with the body.  An ant found the head and started eating it and the fly’s eyes separated from its head.”

The teacher asked, “What did you think about when you were watching this happen?”

She replied, “I thought, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I wouldn’t want to be that fly.”

Later that same afternoon Sasha and Kate joined in the insect hunt and Kate said, “The garden seems to be so calm when you first look at it but when you look closer it’s very alive.”

On another day first graders found the front half of a dead snake and immediately started generating hypotheses as to what happened: Continue reading

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Treat Children As the Scientists They Are and Skip the Terrible Two’s

My one-year-old grandson, Musa, is fast. No, I mean very fast. He can be safe on the sofa and in the time it takes me to get up and take a book off the shelf, he can be waving a poker from the fireplace in all directions.

One can easily foresee the onset of the “terrible two’s,” where all his relationships are defined by a continual string of “No’s” and a battle of wills. But on my last visit with Musa before I returned to the Midwest, I got a clear picture of how it doesn’t have to be that way. Continue reading

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A Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday For Children, Parents, Teachers, Principals and Presidents

When we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., we celebrate a great deal more than the life of a great man. We even celebrate more than a period in American history when our country took a very large step forward toward the dreams of our founding fathers. We celebrate the whole idea that each of us has a responsibility bring out the authority in others.

Today in so many schools across the country children of all races and economic backgrounds are being abused in the most insidious way. Continue reading

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One Way to Stop Bullying

“I’m Not the Only One” Part 2

(Continued from January 4)

As it turned out, I did not have to wait long for an opportunity to address the bullying issue. Later that week Davion did come to my office to complain about Jeremy, telling me about his intimidating behavior and threatening language, emphasizing, “It’s not just me. He’s does it to everybody.” Continue reading

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An Anti-Bullying Strategy for One Child that Affected the Whole School

“I Am Not the Only One”

Part 1

In the autumn of 1974, in my first year as school principal, a kind and gentle fifth grader named Davion was having trouble with some of the other boys in the class. In particular, Jeremy was becoming increasingly intimidating. The teachers intervened anytime they saw an incident. Jeremy had already been sent to my office once, and the teachers were beginning to talk to me about him. We felt that bullying was going on, but saw very few punishable offenses.

One day, Davion’s mother—a kind, thoughtful, single parent —came to my office to complain about Jeremy. Continue reading

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