Pedagogy over Poverty

Between poverty and impoverished pedagogy there is a high correlation. Quality of education goes down with income.  Wealthier children go to better schools, and children who grow up in poverty have a very high probability of getting a bad education. We all know this.

Then we adults make the standard mistake of turning correlation into causation, Continue reading

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Stop and Admire Your Work

Teachers and parents work for love. Something deep inside us, a motive we often take for granted, drives us to commit a part of our lives to children. We don’t take a test to determine if we have the requisite set of talents and abilities to do well at this, and we would be the first to tell you that when we started we didn’t have the skill set. We just take on the challenge our genius told us it was ours to take on.

Sheryl, the latest addition to my honor role of educators, told me her story last month. Continue reading

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Teacher as Learner

The direction that I would give to all teachers is: Watch the child, watch his attitude of attention. Is it spontaneous? Is the light of pleasure in his eyes? Is interest the motive which controls him?

–Colonel Francis W. Parker

Maggie Doyne’s story shows that self-actualization is not the end game (as I once thought when I studied Abraham Maslow years ago.) Self-actualization is a quality of experience that each of us can have, and we can have it at any age.

At the age of 18, Maggie launched herself off into the world with only what she could carry in her backpack. In the course of the next five years she discovered depths of human suffering and joy she didn’t know existed, built an orphanage and a school for 200 children, and “…got my passion back to live and to learn and to be human on this earth.” Continue reading

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“A Home and a Heaven for Children”

Hearing that I am on a mission to change how America thinks about education Dawn Morris wrote: “What does your ideal school look like? Is it hands-on? Is it project based? Is there art? Is there music? I know you think learning should be fun, but what does a fun learning environment mean to you? Is it student directed? What does that mean? What assessments are there? Are there still standards?”

She concluded with: “Having been one of those teachers who left the public schools in frustration Continue reading

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Imbued with the Divine

Ned Hallowell invites us to a weekend with him and Rob Himburg (Click here for more information on the ADHD Enrichment Weekend.) and promises we will: 1) have fun, 2) learn a ton!, and 3) connect and feel inspired! I am sure it’s true, not because I know the teachers that well, but because someone who promises that, will probably deliver.

What if all teachers sent out a note to their students every Sunday afternoon promising Continue reading

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Arrogance is a Learning Disability

The Education of Character is Education Itself.

Many years ago I was consultant to a school that had a reputation for “strong academics,” but was experiencing a lot of “behavior problems.” The kids were mean to each other and to their teachers.

In one conversation about a seventh grader named Justin the teachers expressed their frustration that Justin interrupted his classmates, sounded like a know-it-all, blurted out answers, put others down for their questions and insulted teachers. One teacher said: “He takes after his father.” Others agreed.

At one point in the conversation one of the teachers said, “It’s a shame because Justin is such a good student.” At this point I said: “Wait. That statement is oxymoronic. Arrogance is a learning disability. He may get good grades on tests, but he is inhibiting his own learning as well as others. A know-it-all will not learn as much as someone who will listen to others.” I paused. “And we will never get his father to help us help him change if we label him a ‘strong student.’ That’s what his father cares about.”

By placing “academics” and “morality” in separate categories we compromise our ability to educate. Whether a student is searching for the right words to address a classmate or the best way to state a thesis in an essay, the challenge is essentially the same. Collecting oneself before entering the exam room, the sports arena, or the playground requires the same disciplines. The skills for solving math problems and social problems overlap. Educating “the whole person” starts with understanding that our work is to fully educate each kharakter in our care.


Humility, perseverance, openness, courage, patience, creativity, integrity, resourcefulness, kindness, generosity, and forgiveness are not so much virtues as disciplines, and they serve us well in all endeavors from the social to the academic, from the artistic to the athletic. The habit of taking responsibility is necessary for both homework and interpersonal conflict. The habit of always being respectful no matter what produces best results both in and out of the classroom. Respect, like other disciplines, is not a character trait, but a skill that can be learned. Parents and teachers need to work together to teach our children the disciplines that will help them build character. In the end, education of character is education itself.

 

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