Friday, April 11, 2014

A Conference Call in Real Life

If you have ever participated in a more-than-one-person call with family, or parents and teachers, or board or committee meetings, . . .  you must view this funny rendition of a conference call. See if you agree with what the video is portraying.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Upside Down

All of you fans of Curious George and Jack Johnson, here is a great video and song to share with your little ones.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Andrew Solomon

I was inspired by reading Andrew Solomon's illuminating and must-read book Far From the Tree, so much so, I had the good fortune to interview him for Montessori Life magazine.  Click over to "Appreciating Unity in Diversity: An Interview With Andrew Solomon" to learn more about this amazing writer.

Andrew was a keynote speaker at the American Montessori Society Annual Conference, and I had the distinct honor to introduce him this weekend to the nearly 3,000 attendees.

Also, you may want to read his recent article "The Reckoning" in the The New Yorker. It is a very compelling interview with Peter Lanza, father of Adam.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Getting to See and Hear Temple Grandin

As a follow up to my May 15 post on the book Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon, I came across the excellent Temple Grandin TED Talk that I thought you might be interested in. Also, you can click over to her interview with PBS's Tavis Smiley about her latest book The Autistic Brain.

As a side note, I along with 3,000 other Montessori educators will have the good fortune to hear Temple Grandin and Andrew Solomon speak this week in Dallas at the American Montessori Society Annual Conference. Can't wait.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Still The Most Important People

From the perspective of a parent and teacher, in 2001 I wrote an article for Independent School magazine, "The Most Important People." Twelve years later, I revisited the article and wrote a sequel in the current issue of Independent School magazine from a much different perspective — as a grandfather. I think you will enjoy reading "Still the Most Important People" no matter whether you are a parent, teacher, childcare giver, or grandparent.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Parenting: All Joy and No Fun?

Writer Andrew Solomon wrote an excellent review of Jenifer Senior's book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood in the NYTimes Book Review. Here are a few notes of interest gleaned from his review:

  • "In 1965, when most American women didn't work outside the home, mothers nonetheless spent almost four fewer hours a week than today's mothers do providing child care. Father's on the other hand, spend three times as many hours with their children now as they did then, but do better at keeping downtime reserved for themselves; they do not judge themselves the way mothers do, and experience few of the pressures that make women feel so guilty about being away from home during the workday."
  • "Parents struggle through their children's teenage years both because of their changed relationship with their children and because of their changed relationship to themselves."
  • "Senior demonstrates that there is no contradiction in this seeming paradox; she understands that tolerating children is the cornerstone of loving them."

You may want to listen to NPR's Melissa Block's interview with the author to gain some more insights into her book.

Speaking of Andrew Solomon, watch for my interview with him in the current issue of Montessori Life magazine.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Reverse Psychology

Is bedtime a problem for your children . . . and you?

Recently, I was reading books about owls to little ones at the local library, and I came across the book Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace. AND, it is a hoot, especially the part about his bedtime routine and the tactic employed by his mother and father. Here, see what I mean . . .

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cheating In School?

How much do students cheat in school?

"Cheating in High School and College: the Numbers" is a link that came across my computer. I thought you might be interested in seeing it. Here are some of the topics presented:

  • 8 Ways Students Cheat
  • Which Students Cheat
  • 12 Reasons Why Students Cheat
  • 12 Tools and Techniques Used to Prevent Cheating
  • Resource Links

Also, to get a sense of what drives some students to cheat, parents — particularly those of middle and high schoolers — must read Elizabeth Kolbert's "Big Score" article in the New Yorker, which is based on the book The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT by Debbie Stier.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Navigation to Happiness and Success

As a parent, educator, and now, grandparent, I find myself constantly trying to connect the dots on guiding children, adults, and myself to happiness and success. The first big dots for me were listening to Sir Ken Robinson at an NAIS annual conference and hearing and reading Mihaly Csikszentmihaly's theory of Flow; then these other dots followed . . .

It was Paul Tough's How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character andThomas Friedman's op-ed piece "How to Get a Job at Google" in today's NYTimes that provided the mental pencil for me to actually draw the lines between the dots.

Don't worry if you have not read or watched my "dots" mentioned above, but do take five minutes to read Friedman's article, and you will see what I mean when it comes to arriving at happiness and success—not by academic achievement but—by all of the other difficult-to-quantify characteristics, i.e. perseverance, empathy, critical thinking, curiosity, impulse control, . . .

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Developing a Passion for Writing

While I personally love to write, I have always worked on encouraging other educators to write. It is such an important part of our craft . . . to be good writers. "Developing a Passion for Writing" is an article I wrote that was recently published in the Parents League of New York Review 2014 with the intent on helping all educators to write.

As a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the American Montessori Society's Montessori Life magazine, the Editorial Board of NAIS's Independent Teacher, and a former chair of the Editorial Board of NAIS's Independent School magazine, I can highly recommend to educators these publications along with the Parents League Review as places to submit your writing for consideration. Go ahead, do it now.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Virtual Choir?

I happened upon Eric Whitacre and his choral works, putting thousands of voices together to form a world-wide chorus. The best explanation is for you to see and hear "Lux Aurumque," one of his pieces sung by 185 voices from 12 countries using 243 videos.

To learn more about this wonderful composer, click over to his TED Talk - "Eric Whitaker: A virtual choir 2,000 voices strong." BTW, he will be a keynote speaker at this year's NAIS Annual Conference in Orlando, FL.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Triple Package of Success

JI Lee - NYTimes
I wrote about success in my article "Is Good Best" back in 2003. Here is an excellent similar article that recently appeared in the NYTimes.

"What Drives Success?" by Amy Chua (the infamous Tiger Mom) and Jed Rubenfeld (her husband) posits ". . . the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you've done is not good enough. The third is impulse control."

The article goes on to say "But research shows that perseverance and motivation can be taught, especially to young children." Check out Angela Duckworth's work and her TED Talk that confirm this.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pay It Forward

I never knew what that expression meant until I saw the 2000 movie Pay It Forward with Haley Joel Osment, Helen Hunt, and Kevin Spacey. It is such a great concept for us to do for one another but more importantly to model the concept for our students and children.

Here is a beautiful short StoryCorps piece that sends the same message. Hear Thomas Weller's short story.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Book Thief

Every time I read a recommended young adult or middle reader book, I inevitably say, "That's the best one I have read yet." Well, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is no different. It is so good. The history alone makes it an exceptional read, and after reading it, I could not help but think of it as an opposite of Anne Frank's story.

A true testament is that it has been on the NYTimes Book Review Young Adult Bestseller list for the past 58 weeks.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Meet Sam Berns

I was first introduced to progeria when I read Harold Kushner's bestselling book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. He encountered progeria when he discovered that his three-year old son Aaron had progeria and would rapidly age and die by the age of 14.

In a recent Sunday Boston Globe, I read about Sam Berns who had progeria and passed away at the age of 17 two weeks ago Friday. This video will introduce you to Sam and his parents who are both doctors devoted to finding a cure for this dreaded genetic birth disease. To learn more about progeria go to The Progeria Research Foundation website.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Technology on the Loose

I am at an American Montessori Society (AMS) Heads' Retreat, listening to Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect, and I had to publish this post as soon as I could. After reading her book and now hearing her speak, I have to tell parents and teachers about her crucial message. She looks at various developmental stages of children from toddlers through high school and how they interact with technology. BUT, the most important message is for parents and how they are modeling the use of technology. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK.

Here is a brief link to a YouTube video message from Catherine.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Noogies, Wedgies, Wet Willies?

Is it possible for squirrels to be victimized by noogies, wedgies, and wet willies? Well, if you read about Muffins, Little Old Lady Hu's huge cat, you will see how Mr. Fookwire manages the cat, neighbors, and squirrels.

A great read for children AND adults—Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Salinger and His Book

I have always loved J. D. Salinger's most popular book. Published by Little, Brown and Company in 1951, The Catcher in the Rye reached the bestseller list within two weeks, remained on the list for more than six months, and has sold more than 60 million copies. Also, did you know that "at one time or another it has been both the most banned book in America and the most assigned." To learn more about the origins of the book and Salinger, click over to listen to  The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Parents Sharing Careers in Class

A teacher mentioned to me that her class was about to invite parents into speak to students about what they do at work. I couldn't help it, but I immediately thought of the movie City Slickers

I can't resist offering you the clip from the movie that came to mind. (Warning: Rated PG-13).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

More on Happiness

"A Formula for Happiness" is the title of a recent front page article in the NYTimes Sunday Review section. Written by Arthur Brooks, the article presents many important points; here are a few that might interest you:
  • "After 40 years of research, they attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events, and values. Armed with this knowledge and a few simple rules, (click on the link for a video of Brooks explaining his work) we can improve our lives and the lives of those around us.
  • Every other year for four decades, roughly a third of Americans have said they’re 'very happy,' and about half report being 'pretty happy.' Only about 10 to 15 percent typically say they’re 'not too happy.' 
  • For many years, researchers found that women were happier than men, although recent studies contend that the gap has narrowed or may even have been reversed."
For more good information on happiness, positive psychology, and well being, click over to Shawn Achor and Martin Seligman.