Friday, August 28, 2009

Job or Responsibility?

I have followed Jim Collins' books over the past six years and have tried to adopt his leadership principles in my work as head of school. So much of what he talks about makes such good sense. In his recent book How the Mighty Fall, I point you in the direction of reading his Appendix 5: WHAT MAKES FOR THE "RIGHT PEOPLE" IN KEY SEATS.

Having spent the first 11 years of my career in boarding school doing the triple threat—teaching, coaching, and dormitory duty, I quickly decided the way for me to survive was to "live the life" rather than treat my work as a job.  It has proven to be the way to approach any job that I have had.  In Collins' Appendix 5 he cites six generic characteristics, one of them being "THE RIGHT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE 'JOBS'; THEY HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES.  They grasp the difference between their task list and their true responsibilities.  The right people can complete the statement, 'I am the one person ultimately responsible for . . .'"

As an aside, when I asked a long-time, successful business owner if he read Collins' latest book, he responded to my email by saying, "I am reading it, too. One must always keep his/her eye on the ball and remember, the ball is moving!!!"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kids and TV

Captain Kangaroo, Mickey Mouse, Mr. Rogers, and Big Bird are television characters that exploded on the scene in late 60s and early 70s. They took the place of "Winky Dink" and “Ding Dong School,” which were some of the first attempts of television programming to reach kids.

While on vacation recently, I had the occasion to listen to the radio program “Where We Live” with John Dankosky, a local talk show host. On this particular morning the one hour show was devoted to “The ABCs of Kids TV.” Flanked by Michael Davis, author of Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, and Dr. Dorothy Singer, Senior Research Scientist at Yale University Department of Psychology and Co-director of the Yale Family Television Research and Consultation Center, the host did an excellent job of analyzing kids TV from the beginning up through the present.

If you have ever watched children’s TV or have children who watch TV, this broadcast is a must-listen-too program.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Emma - The Magazine

I cannot begin to tell you how many independent school magazines and publications I have leafed through over the years. Many school publications tout their athletic teams, alumnae/i accomplishments, school progress, etc. It is particularly impressive to read a school publication that is dedicated to a greater theme—women's issues.

Having watched single-sex education find its way on the excellent writing and work of Carol Gilligan, Mary Pipher, Michael Thompson, and Michael Gurian, I was impressed with the summer 2009 edition of "Emma" from the Emma Willard School, a girls 9-12 boarding school in upstate New York.

As you can see by the cover, this edition steps out front to give its readers a view of what is inside, and that is the best part — the content of the magazine. Here are the titles of some of the pieces highlighted in this award-wining magazine:

"After Beauty"
"My Breasts, Myself"
"Body After Baby"
"Outlook Cloudy with a Chance of Radiation"
"Sharing the Big Secret"

Visit Emma online and see for yourself.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

All Kinds of Ears

After a long walk in rural Connecticut, I decided to stop by a local sweet corn stand and pick up a couple ears of corn for dinner. As I walked into the barn stand, I plucked my iPod earbuds from my head, lifted my shades, and sized up the seller. A 16-year old high schooler with requisite summer basketball garb and baseball cap skewed to one side of his head, presented a beautiful smile and asked, "Whatcha listening to?" "John Mayer" was my immediate reply. "Awe, you should be listening to Slipknot." was his response. Instantly, without ever hearing the group, my ears started ringing, knowing that my teenage friend's taste would be appreciably different from mine.

See what you think. Listen to Slipknot's "Psychosocial" (7, 182,000 YouTube views) and John Mayer's "Say" (6,110,000 YouTube views) and see if you notice a slight difference.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Book v. Kindle

The recent NYTimes article "Moving into a Digital Future, Where Textbooks Are History" and the recent advent of the electronic book, Kindle, have caused me to ask, "So, when will the printed word as we know it go totally digital?"

Have YOU thought about converting from books to a Kindle? I have, at least up until our school librarian suggested I view the Green Apple Books' Kindle v. Book series. Try watching “The Book vs. The Kindle, Round 1: The Buy Counter.” I’ll bet you end up clicking on all 5 rounds.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Saying It

When was the last time you said, “I love you.” to your child or a loved one?

The other day when I was walking into a kitchen gadget boutique, I immediately took in the layout of the store. I saw pots, napkins, pepper mills, fancy spoons, and no customers. It was eerily quiet. I directed my attention to a cookbook when I heard, “I love you grandma.” Looking in the direction of what I heard, I saw a five-year old child gazing face-to-face at her grandmother. They were behind the counter ready to wait on the next customer. Within an instant, the reply from grandmother to child was returned, “I love you, too, sweetheart.”

The next time the opportunity presents itself, let someone you love know how you feel by saying it, “I love you.”

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Peace of Brooklyn

The exact same night the Gates, Crowely, and Obama kerfuffle was resolved over a few beers, my wife and I attended a quintessential Brooklyn event in Asher Levy Park in Coney Island. After a half-hour ride due south on the F Train and employing squatters’ rights with fold-up lawn chairs slung over my shoulder, we chose a park plot facing due west. Even though the sun was directly in our eyes, we knew it would be only minutes before a 20-story apartment building would provide shadow creep over our camp. Rummaging through our BHMS sack for our picnic dinner, we quickly chomped on a leftover spare rib, avocado salad, and stuffed mushrooms.

As the park filled, you could repeatedly hear “ ‘scuse me, sorry, ‘scuse me . . .” as the 20,000 spectators slowly made their way to their own turf. Listening to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz on stage chatter about politicos as they entered their select seats, I could not help but notice people of many races, beer-bellied shirtless men, kids texting cellphones, three-generation families reminiscing, candidates handing out leaflets, people with walkers, and an air of community spirit. One passerby was a 60-year old man with his 92-year old father who engaged us in conversation, saying how since his brother passed away four months ago and his mother’s recent death left his father alone, he makes it a point of driving in from Pasaic twice a week to take his father to the Park.

After crowd scanning and reading a chapter from my book, we settled in under a cloudless sky and beautiful half-moon with a perfect 75-degree temperature to listen and watch
Jersey boy Frankie Valli demonstrate why he was one of the all-time best selling rock stars. He had the crowd singing, waving their hands, and bobbing heads. What I loved about the performance was the fact that he introduced new, young talent and gave them a piece of the stage—not too much—to develop their own careers.

While nestled among enough people to fill a small town, we enjoyed a wonderful performance, and at the same time, the President and friends were in the process of trying to correct poor behavior and miscommunication in front of the world. Ironically, when I checked my email the next morning, I clicked on one message that had a link to reporter Jehmu Greene’s article
“Everything Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley Needed to Know, I Learned at a Montessori School.” It’s an excellent article see what you think and let me know.