What Are the Elements of a Great Educational Moment?

 What does Allan and Elise’s experience tell us about the essential elements of an educational moment?

Shucking Corn with Elise

By Allan Stern

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Kindergarten Readiness: Parent Strategy for Best Results.

A very reliable way of assessing children’s readiness for kindergarten is to bring twelve four-and-a-half-year-olds together for a one-hour mock kindergarten class. A teacher greets parent and child at the door, and the parent says good-bye. Most of the time the children leave their parents happily and launch off into what for them is a super play-date. Continue reading

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Thoughtfulness 2: How to Evaluate Teachers

Last week I told the story of how Helen, age 3, resolved a fight in the sandbox one Saturday afternoon. Her diplomatic skills were dramatically evident leaving one wondering how to get her on some Middle East peacemaking team—or simply how to turn over the job to her. Continue reading

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Thoughtfulness: Engaging Empathy to Build Strong Brains

Helen was playing in the sandbox in the park, when a brawl between a brother and sister broke out near her. Helen looked up from her work to see them arguing over a shovel, knocking each other to the ground. Continue reading

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Entitlement and the Pursuit of Happiness

“I just want him to be happy” is the most natural thing for a parent to say; it can also be the most dangerous. Life has unhappiness built in. If it’s not one thing it will be another. We want to spare our children. We want to protect them from pain and rescue them from suffering. This is completely understandable, but it is not particularly constructive. In fact, it is self-defeating. The pursuit of happiness makes happiness increasingly elusive. Continue reading

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Was It Character Building?

Character Building

Before the war (as my parents used to say) “character building” was a good thing. In the 50’s and 60’s when something was hard, educators could say to us students, “Just do it. It’s character building.” 
They must have misused the expression, or used in once too often, or something.  Because, today, character building seems to have become something we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. Continue reading

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Get Him Tested? No. Design a Research Project

Half way into her first year in high school Clair came to her mother and said, “I think I need a tutor in math.”

Her mother was delighted and a little surprised at the request: delighted because Clair asked for help, and surprised because she didn’t know her daughter cared that much about her academic success. She immediately set to the task and in short order found a math tutor with an excellent reputation.

Several months later the tutor told Clair’s mother (Jill) that he thought Clair should get tested to see if “there were some organic reason” she was having such a hard time Continue reading

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The Speech that got the Longest Standing Ovation at the NAIS Conference of Educators

Just in case you missed the longest standing ovation of any speaker at NAIS in the last thirty-years, or perhaps you just wish you could see it again.

Thank you to the educators of the National Association of Independent Schools for a great conference in Seattle last week.

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Kids get Smarter Faster when they Make a Difference

Learning Mathematics in Real Life

How to behave in public is something the students at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Oakland, California, practice daily on their two-block walk to the park for lunch, recess and physical education. Continue reading

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Teacher Authority and the Business of School

Sitting in the speaker’s chair at morning meeting Claire presented a yellow silk scarf to her class. As she spoke she floated it through her hands and around her neck, all eyes of her second grade classmates were on her. Continue reading

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