Parental Authority: Do You Have It?

 Talk So Your Kids Will Listen

“I listen to my father because I have found that he tells me things that turn out to be true,” said Allison (18 year old high school senior) as I drove her home from the basketball game the Wednesday after the Saturday night party where some of her classmates got into trouble, getting drunk and trashing the house of a classmate. “Like ‘Never go out without money,’ he says.” Continue reading

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School Bus Bullying: Seven Lessons

In my article “School Bus Bullying? Look Who’s Taking Responsibility and Who’s Not” on Tuesday I reacted to the social uproar that attended the horror story of four seventh graders cruelly and mercilessly mocking a 68-year old bus monitor. Now that emotions have settled a bit from the initial shock, what becomes clear?

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School Bus Bullying? Look Who’s Taking Responsibility and Who’s Not.

I’m shocked! Shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here.

—Claude Rains in “Casablanca”

 In Upstate New York last week, four seventh graders cruelly and mercilessly mocked a 68-year old bus monitor, and one of them caught 14 minutes of this horror show on camera. Americans are shocked.

The response of Americans so far reveals a nation shocked but not confused—not confused, at least, about morality. Continue reading

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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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Can Teachers Make Mistakes?

“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

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Cover of the Second Edition of “Genius”

The publisher of the second edition of “Genius”, Globe/Pequot Press, has selected a photo for the cover after a great deal of searching. It is particularly fun for me that they selected this candid taken by a new photographer friend of mine, Julie Carter, who lives in Decatur. Here’s what Julie says about the photo she took of her granddaughter at home a year or so ago.

“When Rick talked to me about creating a photo to illustrate the message he was wanting to convey in his book, I immediately thought of the photograph you are considering. The little girl in the photo is my granddaughter, Natalie, who was four-years-old when the photo was taken.

“Natalie was “teaching” my husband how to read a book after telling him that he was reading it to her in a rather “silly” way Continue reading

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Want Cooperative Children? Treat Them As If They Are

 Man walks into a room with a clothesline across it, takes a handful of clothespins out of a basket and starts pinning up clothes. A mother and her 18-month-old son are sitting on the floor watching. After pinning several items, the man accidentally drops a pin on the floor. He then pretends to reach over the clothesline to try to pick up the dropped pin, but his arms just aren’t long enough. The 18-month-old watches the man struggle for few seconds, then leaves his mother, goes over to the clothespin, picks it off the floor and holds it up to the man, who takes it and says thank you. Continue reading

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