Service Learning Kids Find Buried Treasure.

This spring Susan Porter’s sixth grade class found two bags of treasure in Lake Merritt, a140-acre tidal lagoon in downtown Oakland, California. What surprised the reporters (though not me and Susan) was that the kids were not at all selfish about it. They were happy simply to have made a difference. (Later they were happy to have made it on TV). These students are examples of what kids look like when they are treated as if they are inherently altruistic rather than inherently selfish. Continue reading

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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.

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What Are the Elements of a Great Educational Moment?

 What does Allan and Elise’s experience tell us about the essential elements of an educational moment?

Shucking Corn with Elise

By Allan Stern

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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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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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The Invincible Thirty-Something and the Three Joys of Parenting a Difficult Child

“You were a difficult child,” my mother said to me in one of the last few conversations we had before she died.

“I know,” I replied, and we held hands. Continue reading

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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.

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Kids get Smarter Faster when they Make a Difference

Learning Mathematics in Real Life

How to behave in public is something the students at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Oakland, California, practice daily on their two-block walk to the park for lunch, recess and physical education. Continue reading

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Treat Children As the Scientists They Are and Skip the Terrible Two’s

My one-year-old grandson, Musa, is fast. No, I mean very fast. He can be safe on the sofa and in the time it takes me to get up and take a book off the shelf, he can be waving a poker from the fireplace in all directions.

One can easily foresee the onset of the “terrible two’s,” where all his relationships are defined by a continual string of “No’s” and a battle of wills. But on my last visit with Musa before I returned to the Midwest, I got a clear picture of how it doesn’t have to be that way. Continue reading

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