Friday, May 22, 2015

Are You Smarter Than an 8th Grader?


NYTimes columnist Nicholas Kristof's recent article "Are You Smarter Than an 8th Grader?" tells an interesting story on numeracy taught in our schools. He asks the following questions:

1) What is the sum of the three consecutive whole numbers with 2n as the middle number?     A. 6n+3  B. 6n  C. 6n-1  D. 6n-3


"More than three-quarters of South Korean kids answered correctly (it is B). Only 37 percent of American kids were correct, lagging their peers from Iran, Indonesia and Ghana.”

2) How many degrees does a minute hand of a clock turn through from 6:20 a.m. to 8 a.m. on the same day?

A. 680 degrees   B. 600 degrees   C. 540 degrees   D. 420 degrees

"Only 22 percent of American eighth-graders correctly answered B, below Palestinians, Turks and Armenians."

Kristof finishes his article with a logic puzzle. Be careful, this one may hurt your brain.


You’re in a dungeon with two doors. One leads to escape, the other to execution. There are only two other people in the room, one of whom always tells the truth, while the other always lies. You don’t know which is which, but they know that the other always lies or tells the truth. You can ask one of them one question, but, of course, you don’t know whether you’ll be speaking to the truth-teller or the liar. So what single question can you ask one of them that will enable you to figure out which door is which and make your escape?

Answer: "You ask either of them: 'If I asked the other person which door is the one to escape, which would he point to?' Then you take the other door."




Friday, May 15, 2015

Getting to Know David Brooks

Recently, I had the good fortune of hearing David Brooks speak at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH. His personal, thoughtful, and humorous style enthralled the nearly 500 people who gathered to hear him speak about his new book The Road to Character. He opened his remarks by talking about his family and the inspiration that came from his three children.

Here are several resources to help you get to know Brooks better.



Friday, May 8, 2015

A Middle School Field Trip to Baltimore?

Students at Brooklyn Heights Montessori School discuss what they learned about Baltimore. (Eliso Rivera)

Read this wonderful article about what these middle schoolers are doing for their spring field trip. "A Field Trip to Baltimore" by Launa Schweizer is in The Atlantic.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Handshaking Sense

I remember when, for 20 years, I helped seventh and eighth grade students and their parents apply to secondary (aka high) schools. Part of that responsibility was spending time guiding students on executing what I thought was the perfect handshake . . . firm, not too firm; make eye contact; and present your best smile. I felt that this first-impression presentation was important when meeting admissions representatives from various independent, public, and parochial schools.

Fast forward a few years when I found myself listening to author and psychologist JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. speak to a group of parents and educators. She talked about a survey that was done on how college admissions officers could tell immediately from a handshake the students they wanted in their school. Deak then asked those assembled, “So, on a scale of one to ten—one being a limp-wrist handshake and ten being a ‘bone cruncher’ handshake—what handshake was the most impressive?” Audience guesses were anywhere from a four to a nine.

To everyone’s amazement, she said, “Nope. None of your predictions are correct.” She then went on to say that the most convincing handshake was a student who matched the admission officer’s handshake. The raised eyebrows and smiles on everyone’s face were acknowledgement that this really made sense. It certainly did for me.


I now tell everyone this story and practice the matching handshake technique every time I shake someone’s hand. It makes perfect handshaking sense.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Getting to Know TED Talks Better

TED Talks should be a staple for any educator and parent. Each 18 minute talk is filled with information that we all can use in our lives. Watch this 13-minute "60 Minutes" episode that aired last Sunday. It gives a great overview of the origins and concept for TED Talks.


I admit it, I am addicted to TED Talks. Here is a link to my 50 favorite Talks.