Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
I was one of those struggling readers. I didn’t become a reader until fifth grade. That puts me in league with two twenty-five-year-old single mothers whom Julie Pangrac of Project READ introduced me to. They told me their story Continue reading →
Marty Dutcher, a colleague whose first career was early childhood education, told me about a guy named Tom he used to hang out with in his twenties. Tom especially liked to listen to Marty play the guitar.
On one day when Marty asked him to sing along, he said “I can’t. I’m tone deaf.”
“Who told you that,” asked Marty,
“My first grade teacher,” his friend replied.
“She was wrong. She shouldn’t have said that,” said Marty.
“No, really, I am.”
“No, really you are not. If you were tone deaf, you wouldn’t enjoy my music,” said Marty, who then proved to him that he wasn’t. Continue reading →
A teacher friend of mine recently transferred from a “Title One school to a school for Entitled Ones,” as she puts it. According to her the Title One children were generally appreciative, creative, resourceful and loving, the Entitled Ones (not all of them, of course) were demanding, unappreciative, disrespectful and very difficult to teach. Continue reading →
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 →
“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 →
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 →
“Tell me about how it is okay for teachers to make mistakes,” Michelle said. “I am both a teacher and a parent,” she went on. “As a parent, when you make a mistake, you can acknowledge it, change your mind, make a better decision, and move on. But when you are responsible for other people’s children, you can’t make mistakes. What’s a professional to do?”
In a talk I gave last month at a school in the Midwest, I had made the twin statements: “Mistakes are learning opportunities; Fear of Making Mistakes is a learning disability.” The idea hit a nerve. Continue reading →