What Good Schools, Happy Families and Successful Adults Have in Common

An educated person has the ability and inclination to use judgment and imagination in solving the problems that confront them at work and at home, and to participate in the maintenance of democracy.

-David Berliner

Happy families are all alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy for the same reason. (Tolstoy only got it half right.) The same principle holds true for schools.

That reason came to me yesterday, when one of the men who was working on our new home in Decatur discovered I was an educator and wanted to talk. He started with: “If you ask me, the problem with our schools is all about discipline. The problems all began when parents stopped supporting the authority of the teacher. Continue reading

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Gettin In (or not): What is College Admission Really all about?

Message to a teenager who was accepted at her second choice school and is anxiously waiting for word from her first choice:

Sorry for your nail-biting time. You are a great girl and will land on your feet like a cat–as you always do. Congratulations on your A’s and B’s this year. Continue reading

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Parenting toward Happiness

“I Just Want Him to be Happy”

Several years ago the mother of a 5th and 2nd grader came in to talk. She was in the early stages of a divorce and was having a lot of trouble with fifth grader John. About fifteen minutes into her descriptions of unpleasant incidents she said with tears just behind her eyes: “I only want him to be happy.”

“That is probably not a realistic objective right now,” I said.

It was the right thing to say. It was understandable that John was unhappy, and he had a perfect right to be unhappy. His parents were going through a divorce, for heaven’s sake.

But my statement has general validity, too. Continue reading

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