Friday, April 28, 2017

The Gift of Failure

This is a must-read book, especially if you have anything to do with tweens and teens. The author, Jessica Lahey, a mother of two boys AND a middle school teacher, has all of the correct instincts when guiding parents through the perils of how parents should handle failure with their children. Here are three quotes from the book that can apply to any child and parents:

In order to raise healthy, happy kids who can begin to build their own adulthood separate from us, we are going to have to extricate our egos from our children’s lives and allow them to feel the pride of their own accomplishments as well as the pain of their own failures. (p. xv)

The less we push our kids toward educational success, the more they will learn. The less we use external, or extrinsic, rewards on our children, the more they will engage in their education for the sake and love of learning. (p. 22)


Teach your children to face failure and accept it as valuable feedback. Let them see you taking risks and failing, and talk about those failures as opportunities to better yourself. (. 238)

I personally read the book through the lens of a middle school teacher, former head of two schools, and a father of two sons. Some of my thoughts on failure are captured in "Rethinking the 'F' Word" an article I wrote back in 2008 for Independent School magazine.


Friday, April 14, 2017

A Look at Empathy

"Empathy Can Ease the Pressure: A very short empathic one act play" is an article I wrote for Independent School magazine in 2010.

"Empathy is Tough to Teach But is One of the Most Important Life Lessons" from MindShift is excellent, and this video comes with the short article introducing Dr. Brené Brown's informative take on empathy.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Neurodiversity: A most Important Word & Topic


From NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman:

"One of the most promising developments since the publication of 'The Geek Syndrome' has been the emergence of the concept of Neurodiversity: the notion that conditions like autism, dyslexia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should be regarded as naturally occurring cognitive variations with distinctive strengths that have contributed to the evolution of technology and culture rather than mere checklists of deficits and dysfunctions."



Friday, March 17, 2017

A Video Against the Misuse of Standardized Testing

Check out this video that is a message to schools and children on how to respond to the misuse of standardized testing.

The video is presented by the Community Montessori School in New Albany, IN. View their special Be Brave for Education website.

From the video . . .

"Our care of the children should not be governed by the desire to 'make them learn things,' but by the endeavor always to keep burning within them the light which is called intelligence." (Mari Montessori)

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Lesson in Emotional Intelligence




Click over to this powerful article "How Emotional Intelligence Landed Mr. Rogers $20 Million" by Travis Bradberry author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

Embedded in his article, Bradberry uses this YouTube video of Mr. Rogers speaking at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in 1969 about caring for children.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Helping Our Children and Ourselves Understand the Ills of Class

Recently, my son recommended that I read the book Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, a #1 NYTimes bestseller about a young boy growing up in Kentucky and southwest Ohio. For me, there are so many lessons to be gained from reading the book, particularly lessons in class distinctions.

Back in 1999 I wrote an article in Independent School magazine entitled "Class Bias—the Real Enemy." Here is a quote from the article that appeared in the NAIS Trendbook 2012-2013—"What impact does this [class] have on independent school communities? In 'Class Bias, the Real Enemy,' Dane L. Peters argues, 'By the nature of a school's many diverse constituents, there is inextricably woven within the fabric a class thread that can unravel the prevailing mission to educate children.' In addition to addressing access in admissions and financial aid, many schools have found that examining issues of socioeconomic and class diversity can help the school become a more welcoming community for all."

For those who may want to dig deeper into understanding class via Hillbilly Elegy, listen to a podcast from "The Ezra Klein Show" that features an interview with author J.D. Vance; it gives excellent insights into class and how it affects America.

Friday, February 3, 2017

I Came Across a Palindrome the Other Day and . . .


. . . way back when I was teaching my 5th grade math class, palindromes was the subject that really interested my students and me. You know that palindromes are numbers, words, and sentences you can read forwards and backwards, and they are the same, e.g. 32523, Otto, radar, and . . . "Go hang a salami! I'm a lasagna hog!" Yes, that is a palindrome.

Fifth graders are great thinkers. See what I mean when you read "Is That Number Really a Palindrome?," an article I wrote back in 1995 for the publication Teaching Children Mathematics. 

Here is the link to the book GO HANG A SALAMI! I'M A LASAGNA HOG! and Other Palindromes by Jon Agee.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Procrastination Problems?

Do you or your kids—your own or your students—have problems with procrastination? If so, view this informative and funny TED Talk. You will find it most helpful.

WARNING: Blog viewers are at their own risk if they share this with kids.  😉


Friday, January 6, 2017

You Have to Be Carefully Taught


I am convinced that some of the inhumanity cited below begin with how we teach our children. Read a recently published article I wrote, "You Have to Be Carefully Taught" to get further insights.

Excerpt from the article:
As I witness the struggles of Middle Eastern countries dealing with violence inflicted by radical groups like the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ISIS, I again ask myself, How can this be happening? How can anyone justify this heartless, inhumane treatment? Is this behavior learned in certain cultures? Perhaps, for some people, it is in the name of a religious/cultural belief, and, for others (e.g., drug cartels), the object is not to cooperate with a higher authority—or the issue is greed, or mental illness. And let us not forget recent tragedies in San Bernardino, CA; Orlando, FL; Dallas, TX; and Nice, France. For the month of June 2016 alone, Wikipedia lists 218 terrorist incidents worldwide, including bombings, executions, shootings, and attacks.