School is about Keeping it Together and Being Right; Education is about Breaking, Being Wrong and Becoming Whole

 Parents and teachers would do well to observe Yom Kippur all year round

A two-year-old boy entered a Montessori classroom clinging to his mother. While she talked to the teacher, he hung on her leg looking anxiously around the room. He cried when she left and glued himself to the window. One teacher remained seated eight feet away, calmly watching, waiting, engaging with a student who showed her an apple, then helping another unscrew a cap.

Continue reading

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share

What is Genius? Part 1: Calli’s Love Life

Finding genius is not about finding ability. Finding genius is about unlocking the creative potential of the human brain.

Continue reading

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share

Continuing the Discussion of Gifted Education

Last week’s post began an important conversation about gifted education. Let it continue.  Project Bright Idea is showing that gifted education works for all children. The moral of the story is: “Treat students as if they are gifted and they will show up as gifted.” Take a look at the video and see what you think. Continue reading

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share

Is My Child Gifted?

Is my child gifted?

Our culture is crazy in the education department. A Gifted and Talented professional will tell you that if your child “shows learning needs” such as: Continue reading

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share

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.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share

A Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday For Children, Parents, Teachers, Principals and Presidents

When we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., we celebrate a great deal more than the life of a great man. We even celebrate more than a period in American history when our country took a very large step forward toward the dreams of our founding fathers. We celebrate the whole idea that each of us has a responsibility bring out the authority in others.

Today in so many schools across the country children of all races and economic backgrounds are being abused in the most insidious way. Continue reading

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share

Should Parents Give Their Children Books For Christmas, or?

 Love

When I was nine and my father asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said, “Something I can build and then when it’s built I can play with it.”

Fifty years later, when my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said, “Fifty pieces of rebar two feet long.” Continue reading

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share

Management-Speak Disguises a Short-Sighted Vision of School

In decades of trying to improve schools, things aren’t working out. Maybe, we should apply a lesson of life to our approach to elementary school: Do the present right, and the future will take care of itself.

On the surface much of the lingo of school improvement seems full of confident commitment to excellence and success for all. Language like accountability for measurable outcomes, high standards, data driven decision-making, racing to the top, leaving no children behind, and so on is seductive. Hearing this language in a school system one imagines thousands of children working hard to produce results that will someday make thousands of adults proud of their collective commitment to success. Continue reading

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share

Vulnerability on the First Day of School: Weakness, Worry, Worthiness, and Seven Ways to Ensure Success

On the first day of school Leila’s mother said: “Leila was looking forward to school all summer. Then two nights ago she started getting anxious.”

I know Leila struggles with “giftedness.” Nonetheless, I asked, “What was she anxious about?”

“Will my friends be in my classroom this year?”

All children are completely different, each with their own peculiar set of strengths, weaknesses and things to worry about. However, the number one reason children go to school is to be with other children, and regardless of whether they charge into school on the first day all smiles or cling to their parents’ legs, they are all the same in one major respect: their bottom-line aim is to avoid embarrassment.

And embarrassment is a possibility for each one of them. “Will I say something stupid in opening circle?” “Will I measure up?” “Will anyone like me?” “Am I worthy?”

We humans are social animals. We all want to be worthy and are aware that our weaknesses put us at risk. We are anxious that our vulnerabilities will trip us up. So in most social environments we lead with our strengths, trying to hide our weaknesses. We can expend a great deal of psychic energy trying to hide those weaknesses.

And yet, school is usually designed to make hiding hard. Continue reading

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share

This March on Washington, Where’s the Dream?

At the end of this month there will be a  “Save our Schools March” on Washington. Unlike the 1963 March on Washington, there is no clear, shared vision of what it would look like if the desired changes happened. What would it look like if teachers and parents “took back the schools?”

Last month I published “Nine Lies about Academic Achievement that Parents and Teachers often Seem to Believe—but Don’t Really” in which I suggest that parents and other educators actually do know what we want. We want schools to graduate young people for the world as it is rather than for the industrial age.

The good news is, we know what those graduates should look like. Educators from Tony Wagner at Harvard to Linda Darling-Hammond at Stanford have identified the kinds of skills the world will require of our graduates: focusing, making connections, changing perspective, creating, making judgments, finding meaning, working with others, managing conflict, planning, taking on challenges, persevering, etc.

Citizens with these skills, however, will not come from whomever wins the big debates over testing, teachers, unions, accountability, privatization, vouchers, charter schools, and so on.

The great news is that the changes we want have already occurred in some schools for some students. Hundreds of schools across the country, both public and private, rich and poor, are learning communities whose cultures are focused on bringing out the best in each person, building their character and their competence, and growing their authority. They have abandoned the Pyramid Model. For these schools and the people in them the game of school is not the “Get the Right Answers Game” but the “Work with Others to Investigate Interesting Questions Game.” These schools are graduating young people for the future—any future.

I have met many of these young people. They are everything we say we want: confident, creative collaborators who can communicate, they can speak and write, and solve problems on their own and also know when to involve others, and they are not into measuring up but rather into making a difference. They are trying to find their own unique place in a very wide world, and seem quite ready for the dynamic never-ending process of self-reinvention.

Moreover, they aren’t all under 30. Apparently this change has been going on for at least a generation. A parent at one school was going on about how wonderful her daughter’s school was. He said: “I visited 15 different schools. I could tell in five minutes that I wanted this school.”

So, I asked, “Terrific, but what’s so great?” Continue reading

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share