. . . insights on children and parenting and a resource for educators and parents on children, teaching, learning, and leadership.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Withitness in Teaching
Friday, December 26, 2008
Getting a Handel on Classical Music & Kids
The $25, third row tickets I bought through tdf (Theater Development Fund) were an added surprise treat. tdf is the non-profit organization that operates the tkts booths in Times Square, Brooklyn, and South Street Seaport.
As I prepared myself to listen to this renowned score, I scanned the packed house to see how many spectators were, say, below the age of 30. . . not many. . . certainly, no one under 10. My initial reaction was, “Too bad.” Even after hearing the chorus sing the familiar “For Unto Us a Child is Born” and “Hallelujah” I realized a three-hour performance is too long for any child to develop an appreciation for this great music.
As a lover of classical music, which by the way, I did not begin to fully appreciate until half way through college, I have always believed that children should be exposed to it from birth and in appropriate doses. Also, children will let you know their listening pleasure. It’s always good to listen to music with your children/students, be it classical, rock, international, musicals, etc. together.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Just about every Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. I am tuned to NPR’s Weekend Edition, hosted by Scott Simon. And on one recent Saturday, I was captured by a delightful interview with Jon, talking about his new memoir Knucklehead. (Click on the recent review of Knucklehead.) During the interview, the 54-year old author and the nation’s Ambassador to Children’s Literature stated that the key to getting children to read is letting children read what they like - comic books, magazines, graphic novels, etc.
Here's a YouTube interview about this wonderful guy who began teaching in a Manhattan school. You may know Jon from some of his other popular books - The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales, Math Curse, The Frog Prince, and Science Verse.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
. . . my office is situated on a hall that leads the two-year olds to the rooftop play area. Each day in the fall and while at my desk, I would wave to them as they sheepishly walked past, heads focused straight ahead never venturing the thought of exchanging a wave. By December, one or two would walk by, look in and timidly lift a hand in an attempt to acknowledge my flapping gestures.
Well, by February, the teachers cannot move them past my office because they all have to stop, wave vigorously, and say “Hi Dane.”
The other day I was standing outside of my office and the twos were making their way back from their daily venture to the rooftop. I was excited; now I could be close by and exchange a happy hello instead of the behind-the-desk wave. Hovering close to the hall wall, anticipating my office, three children prepared themselves to crane their necks around the door jamb to offer their daily greeting when they looked up at me and quickly shied away as if to say, “Hey, who are you and what are doing here?” They wanted nothing to do with me. Then it dawned on me that I was out of context. I immediately said, “Oh. Wait a minute. I’ll fix this.” I ran to my desk and began waving. Without a hitch, their faces beamed, hands started flapping and the “Hi Danes” took over as if I were always there.
By the way, it isn’t only children that need contextual clues. Last weekend, my wife and I were at the green grocer and a parent gave a hearty “Hello Dane.” I smiled and wondered who that was. A minute later, when it was too late, I realized that it was a parent . . . but without his child and not walking through the front door of the school. Like the twos, I, too, needed contextual clues.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Seeing What You Heard
Saturday, November 29, 2008
“. . . thoughtful responsible . . .”
I can still remember. . . several years ago, while driving in my car she was doing a piece, which was a follow-up on a recent appeal that was made to listeners where they were asked to write in their own experiences with random acts of kindness. Touching and extremely thoughtful with story after story, I found my eyes welling up listening to these various kind gestures on the part of anonymous people. One story was of a woman who clearly remembered when she was 13 years old and her parents had just divorced and the upcoming holidays were looking pretty grim. On Christmas morning there was a knock at the back door and upon inspection there was no one there but there were ten huge bags of presents and food. To this day she does not know who did such a kind deed.
A California woman spoke of the time when her family was on a picnic and they were about to dig into mom’s famous potato salad when mom excused herself with her heaping plate and walked 20 feet toward a man who was picking through the trash. She handed the man her plate and walked back to our family. Years later, I asked my mother if she remembered the incident and she replied, “Not at all.” The daughter went on to say, “My mother’s act was a touchstone of what good deeds became in my life.”
These stories never fail to restore my faith in people and inspire me to do something good for another person. No matter how young or old, everyone appreciates kind acts whether received or given. Imagine how powerful a kind act given to a child is. You not only help the child with the deed, but you also model for him/her to pass on the kindness to another person. Not a particularly popular movie but a personal favorite, "Pay it Forward" staring Haley Joel Osment, as a seventh grader, Helen Hunt, as his mother, and Kevin Spacey, as a social studies teacher, speaks to this idea eloquently.
If you happen to be in front of a computer looking for something to do, go to the NPR site and listen to Susan Stamberg’s piece, “Stories of Good Deeds.” I assure you that it will be well worth the seven minutes and seven seconds it takes to listen to the piece, and while you are there, give thought to our very own mission statement where it says “Our children learn to be thoughtful responsible citizens of the School and the world around them.”
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Earliest Years of Life
Now, having read Chapter 6 "The Impact of the Earliest Years on Students' Success" in Clayton Christensen's Disrupting Class (see November 13 and 19 posts below), research confirms Dr. Montessori's theories and work. Essentially, the book states "[Todd Risley's and Betty Hart's] particular strand of research is teaching us that a significant portion of a person's intellectual capacity is determined in his or her first 36 months." Their research presents "extra talk" and "business talk" in "language dancing" as being instrumental in a child's language acquisition.
Further, Christensen goes on to state "There is a strong connection between what neuroscientists are learning about how the physical brain functions and the observations that extra talk, or language dancing, leads to keen auditory skills, which in turn leads to improved learning capacity."
Reading this chapter alone is worth buying the book. There is much much more that you will learn beyond this one chapter.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
and watched two sculptors there.
The clay they used was a young child's mind,
and they fashioned it with care.
One was a teacher; the tools she used
were books and music and art;
One was a parent with a guiding hand,
And when at last their task was done,
they were proud of what they had wrought.
For the things they had worked into the child
could never be sold or bought.
And each agreed she would have failed
if she had worked alone.
For behind the parent stood the school
and behind the teacher, the home.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Disrupting Class to Improve Education
Several Christensen points:
- schools may be able to switch to a student-centric learning mode
- teachers must help individual students progress by being a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage
- project-based learning is a highly motivating way for many students to synthesize what they are learning
- Movement and cognition are closely intertwined; movement can enhance thinking and learning.
- Learning and well-being are improved when people have a sense of control over their lives.
- People learn better when they are interested in what they are learning.
- Tying extrinsic rewards to an activity negatively impacts motivation to engage in that activity when the reward is withdrawn.
- Collaborative arrangements can be very conducive to learning.
- Learning situated in meaningful contexts is often deeper and richer than learning in abstract contexts.
- Particular forms of adult interaction are associated with more optimal child outcomes.
- Order in the environment is beneficial to children.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The List Goes On
At last week's NYSAIS Heads' Conference, I heard Shawn Achor (Check him out by seeing the post before this one. He was excellent.), and I am in the middle of reading Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen (see next post for more on the book). It dawned on me that I am hearing, seeing, and reading the same names in education over and over.
and there are also Daniel Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, and Malcolm Gladwell.
Christensen and the above educational innovators keep talking about moving away from the usual "mindset" of people having a fixed, two-dimensional intelligence and away from "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side" education. I am convinced that changes have to occur in teaching if we are going to have any hope of moving forward. It would seem to me that the timing for this to happen is prime with a new President in the White House. His background, education, and family are perfect for this kind of change to take place.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Positive Psychology & Happiness
- 50% of Harvard students are below average.
- Grade point average does not correlate with happiness.
- Only 25% of job success is based on IQ.
- The ratio of negative to positive research is 17 to 1.
- Happiness is a precursor to success not the result of it.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
With Help From My Little Friends
It dawned on me one day as I was riding on the number 2 subway train that I was a bit reluctant to perform a surreptitious quarter-head turn and check the glass-enclosed map to see if the train I was riding on would stop where I intended to go. I have never seen a veteran subway rider check a subway map; I have only witnessed obvious tourists gawking at a map in public view.
I notice onlookers with their faces crinkled and eyes rolling up displaying a message, “Sheesh, tourists, they’re so obvious.” But when I catch the eye of children riders, I inevitably see them with a look that says, “Hey, I can help you, I ride this train all the time.” That’s one of the beautiful characteristics of a child - no hang-ups, no pretense, always a willingness to engage, help, or interact unconditionally.
I know you’re out there – those long-time riders who study the map at home, never in public view. It stands to reason that if you have to travel to Sutfin Boulevard in Queens from school, you have to use a map to navigate the G, to the A, to the J; heaven forbid you should look at a map along the way to check your progress. If you were a child (with parent in tow), you would just get to a subway, get on the train in the right direction, and then navigate to your destination using maps along the way. Why not?
To prove my point, the other day I saw what looked to be a 20 year resident of the City (I could just tell) saunter past a map – back and forth, back and forth – in the station catching glimpses of the map. After three passes by the map, he still looked perplexed. A nearby eight year old said, “Need help, sir?” He looked at the child, curled his lip in a way that said, “I know New York and I don’t need help using the subway.” I was proud of my little friend when she offered advice, saying “Be careful ‘cause even though this is a local Six track, the Two stops here on weekends while repairs are being made.” I could see the look of relief on the traveler’s face while he mumbled a reluctant “Thang ew.”
I wanted to give my little friend a “High Five” but thought better of it. Anyway, I couldn’t because I was fumbling with my overused subway map, trying to figure out if I was even at the right station!
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Building School Budgets
Admittedly, the financial crisis is all relative to our diverse school communities. I believe the article does provide a perspective that we may not be grasping at this point and how it all is impacting fundraising, tuition, enrollment, etc.
As our schools build our 2009-10 budgets, I believe we have to keep an open mind and prepare accordingly.
Monday, October 27, 2008
What is Your Parenting Style?
Saturday, October 25, 2008
By chance I came across Michael Vickers, a Pink-like speaker who talks about "high task" and "high touch." What he has to say about this topic is practical and can help in running businesses and schools and in relationships with customers and parents. I have not read his book yet, but see what you think about what he has to say by listening to his 15 minute video clip where he talks about his "Creating High Touch." While you are there, click on his other video, "Value Price Relationship"; it, too, is very entertaining and informative.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
At What Reading Level Do Politicians Speak?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Clear Love in a Fog
After I finished greeting children and parents at the front door, I remembered that my wife had asked me to bring the laundry to the cleaners. Upon fetching six shirts and a vest from my office and heading up the block, I noticed a dad who had dropped off his child just a few minutes earlier and was now looking into the child’s classroom window from the street. With his nose poking through the white window bars and practically touching the glass, the dad was breathing on it to create a fog. He apparently got the attention of his child and was using his pointer finger to write into the fog "I love you," mouthing the words at the same time.
How often do we say the words "I love you" to our children? I would guess not nearly enough. An emotion that should be crystal clear to our children needs to be expressed frequently, in as many ways that we can think of. Too often we become swept away in our daily lives, take love for granted, and never express it to our children . . . and to one another. Today (and tomorrow) let someone know that you love her/him.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
A Book to Consider
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Flow in Learning
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Children, Fairness, Hard Work, and Altruism
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Young Adult or Adult Reading?
Well, she was right. This Simpsonsesque novel, like the popular television series, guides the reader back and forth from young adult readers identifying with seventh grader Holling Hoodhood to adult readers enjoying the life of his family, Shakespeare, the Cold War, and the New York Yankees. A month a chapter, Holling grows up quickly in one year — 1967. I will read pages 75 to 81 to our middle school students to give them a taste of this wonderful book.
What I loved was how Schmidt wove works of the Bard with teaching, family life in the 60s, and the life of middle school students. He really captures it all. Read the NYTimes review if you want, but if you are a parent of a preadolescent, or teach middle school, or love the Simpsons, grab The Wednesday Wars. You’ll love it.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Class Bias - The Real Enemy
Good literature and life experiences suggest that biases among people are often rooted in class — more so than in race, culture, sexual orientation, religion, or gender.
My own awareness of class differences heightened as I moved from my public school education to the military, where people were slotted into one of three classes — enlisted, non-commissioned officers, or officers — to teaching in a boarding school, to teaching in a day school on the North Shore of Long Island, and finally to my current position as head of a school in Connecticut. But it was while my wife and I were living and teaching on Long Island that class distinction — the invidiousness of it — was most dramatic. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby accurately describes the class-conscious segment of society in which my family and I were immersed. Independent schools are often seen as institutions that perpetuate class distinction. For me, however, the sharp contrast in class separation inspired me to fully appreciate and embrace the value of independent education.
As faculty members at a Long Island independent school in which our children were enrolled, we found ourselves in a world divided into two classes. Our parenting skills were often tested as our children straddled both of these worlds — living in a family of teachers, on one hand, and having wealthy classmates and friends, on the other. This was made clearest during holiday breaks when our choice for vacation was markedly different (read “less exotic”) from the choices of their classmates’ families. As we witnessed our own children comparing material differences, we realized they had difficulty understanding and accepting their own social status. And why shouldn’t they in a broader culture that too often equates success with wealth, with having it all?
It has been a great challenge for us as parents to help our children realize that who they are is so much more important that what they are — that material wealth is not the goal of life, not the pot at the end of the rainbow. This is the same challenge that many of today’s independent schools face. Some families are affluent while others invest their life savings in their children’s education, and others are grateful for scholarship or financial aid that allows the opportunity for a quality education. The good news is that the class structure that challenges independent schools evolves from the diversity of families our schools now enjoy serving, and that underlying everything is a unity of purpose among families: their appreciation of high-quality education and care given to children. It is the combination of this unity of purpose and our newly found dedication to embracing differences that validates my belief in independent education.
Keeping issues of diversity in the forefront reminds our schools of the constant need to move forward. Ultimately, each school must be sensitive to individual differences and promote a parenting style that embraces unified yet diverse school communities. At the same time, our similarities — those traits that bind humanity — need also to be emphasized. I am informed inspired by the work, writing, and life of Robert Coles, which transcends class distinctions and represents a valid map with routes to the essence of people understanding each other. Cole’s The Call of Stories is one of the most eloquent books on the subject. Whether a family enjoys eating at Pizza Hut, Denny’s, or at a gourmet restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan; or whether the color of its skin is not in the majority; or its children’s education is supported by financial aid, the subtleties of class should never dull a family’s sense of its humanity, of its connectedness to others.
I understand that the independent school system is not above perpetuating its own class system. The "old-boy network" subtly pushes against gender diversity and tacitly yields to class distinctions and legacies within school communities; it can unconsciously nudge teachers, heads of school, children, and families away from our schools. By the nature of a school’s many diverse constituencies, there is inextricably woven within the fabric a class thread which can unravel the prevailing mission to educate children. But I believe the combination of dedication to high quality education, embracing of differences, and emphasis on shared values is leading us toward becoming truly inclusive schools that reach beyond class. The blueprint is drawn; people can envision the structure; now it is a matter of finding the raw materials — courage and perseverance — to complete the construction phase.
The human migration from England to America provided much to compare and think about regarding biases among people; oddly enough, it was class oppression which many of our relatives fled in the seventeenth century. But with all of America’s class struggles, I am grounded by how John Steinbeck set a common denominator and described America’s people in Travels with Charley. “If I were to prepare one immaculately inspected generality it would be this: For all of our enormous geographic range, for all of our sectionalism, for all of our interwoven breeds drawn from every part of the ethnic world, we are a nation, a new breed.”
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
My 1999 thoughts were confirmed when I read the book Class Matters (Times Books, 2005), which looked at wealth, job, education, and income as class qualifiers. Click over to the Class Matters interactive graphic "How Class Works" to view "Components of Class," "How Class Breaks Down," "Income Mobility," and "A Nationwide Poll." This graphic will give you a better understanding of how class works in our society.
Read "The Next Kind of Integration" in the July 20 NYTimes Sunday Magazine. You will see that our education system is beginning to get to the root of equal education for all children by looking at class instead of race.
Lastly, in the book Three Cups of Tea, the author opens chapter 4 with "Greatness is always built on this foundation: the ability to appear, speak, and act as the most common man." -Shams-ud-din Muhammed Hafiz. Give some thought to what this quote is saying.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
How to Inspire 20,000 Teachers
While you are at YouTube, you may want to click on his award winning speech honoring Dr. Maya Angelou, quoting from Dr. Martin Luther King's "The Drum Major."
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
A Different Kind of Romance
Friday, September 5, 2008
"Let’s start with us. Walking through the Olympic Village the other day, here’s what struck me most: the Russian team all looks Russian; the African team all looks African; the Chinese team all looks Chinese; and the American team looks like all of them."
Actually, whenever I hear people getting down on America and what it represents, I reflect on what it is. Let's consider a few of the cultural identifiers and what is happening in America today:
• race - a presidential candidate is a person of color
• agism - a presidential candidate is in his 70s
• gender - a vice presidential candidate is a woman
America isn't perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but I believe Freidman's melting pot point is well taken.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Newbery Medal = Good Young Adult Reading
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Developing Resilient Children
- Teaching Empathy
- Effectively communicating
- Believing in the worth of a child
- Creating opportunities for ownership/developing a sense of community
- Setting realistic goals/orchestration of success
- Teaching children to learn from mistakes
- Developing responsibility, compassion for others, and social conscience
- Teaching children to make decisions and solve problems
- Disciplining in ways that promote self-discipline and self-worth
- Creating a close alliance between home and school
Monday, August 25, 2008
What is it You Want?
A while ago I had occasion to walk past the Parents Room when a delightful little girl, of the 12-month-old variety, caught my eye. I made my way into the room, sprawled myself on the floor within googling distance of her, and attempted to be recognized. She was intent on completing one of those bulky wooden puzzles with mom coaching her from the side, and it took a little time for her to pay me heed. Once we locked in eye contact, however, she made my day with a beautiful smile. This invited me to begin some animated conversation.
Not long (maybe 20 seconds) into our chatter, my little friend’s face crinkled into fear and she began to cry and withdraw from my presence. Flummoxed, I backed off and said to her mother, "I guess she doesn’t like bow ties." I was about to make my exit when I noticed that the girl’s left hand was tucked under a puzzle piece, her leg was pushing down on the piece, and her tiny fingers were being pinched. Ouch! Once I repositioned her leg and freed her captured hand, she smiled, we reconnected, and I decided I would continue to wear bow ties. She wanted her hand to be free from pain.
It is a perpetual challenge to figure out what children want. This can be especially so with the 12-year-old, emerging adolescent. There are several books that I have relied upon when I am attempting to understand young teens, and I recommend them highly to you. Anthony E. Wolf’s Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall?, and Laura Sessions Steppe’s Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence are both must-reads. For reading matter pertaining to children of other ages, I suggest you talk to your child's program/division head.
Unfortunately, I have no books or methods to recommend for adult conundrums. . . in that area, I discover new challenges every day!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Respect and Caring for One Another = Keys to Diversity
Ramsey looks at the context of learning diversity in the life of preschoolers and early elementary children through race, social class, consumerism, culture, gender, sexual orientation, and abilities and disabilities.
Drawing on the work and sensibilities of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Robert Coles, Ramsey states “To develop connections with each other and with the social and natural world, children must learn to be caring and respectful. They need to make room in [their] mind[s] for others’ — a space for others’ ideas, wishes, and perspectives — and develop a willingness to learn from people with experiences and backgrounds dissimilar to theirs.”
Monday, August 18, 2008
At a lecture given to medical students, the author gave five suggestions for how one might make a worthy difference:
- Ask an unscripted question
- Don't complain
- Count something
- Write something
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Music has always been an inspiration to my work. Be it classical, jazz, reggae, rock, easy-listening, or movie/play sound tracks, I am often moved by lyrics and melodies. From time to time, I will pass on music through YouTube that has held my attention when I am listening to the radio, iPod, or computer stream. As an example, here is a favorite, Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin; the lyrics are powerfully prophetic.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Robins and Crows - Flying Beyond Labels and Groups
I distinctly remember wishing I were in the other basal reader - the green one that the robins reading group used. I wasn’t even a blue jay, the name of the second reading group; I was a crow; that was the name of my reading group, the third reading group.
I knew I was in the slowest reading group. The name of the group was a dead give-away, and it was pretty obvious, one could tell by the slow speed and cumbersome pronunciation with which members of my group read. I was pretty self-conscious, heck I still remember it 44 years later. Maybe this experience is what caused me to be a proponent of heterogeneous grouping. Now, working in a school where children are sectioned in multi-aged groupings is my idea of a safe, sane, and sound educational practice. It makes sense to have children of differing ages, abilities, and skills in the same classroom because children grow at different speeds – fast and slow – at different stages of their lives.
I have grown to rely on Dr. Montessori’s philosophy and pedagogy that look at children in three-year developmental stages. Children need that time for freedom of growth without fear of not meeting a rigid predetermined standard. Too often we confine our children to single years as we ask them to perform intellectually, emotionally, and physically. “Not reading by the end of first grade?” “Didn’t make the travel soccer squad?” “She would rather go to the movies with mom and dad instead of the middle school dance?” Children have many years in which to grow, learn, and develop. It is up to us as parents and teachers to give them ample encouragement and time.
There are no crows here, only birds feathering their own nests, in their own fashion, at their own pace.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Cute 8s Conversation
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Stuart, Charlotte, E. B. White, and Anne Carroll Moore
Friday, August 1, 2008
I must confess . . .
Under no circumstances am I recommending that you watch the program; I only pass the experience on to parents (and teachers) to say how important our behavior is to the children we serve. I will recommend Teaching and Learning in a Diverse World (Third Edition, Teachers College Press, 2004) by Patricia G. Ramsey to get a fuller understanding of how our adult behavior impacts our children, particularly as it pertains to understanding the lives of those around us.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Better Clean Hands
Better, a book by Atul Gawande, that has as its first chapter "On Washing Hands," gives an alarming inside look at how critical this easy yet complicated procedure is for the medical profession. More on Better later.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Internet Impact on Learning
Capture the same 2008 debate brewing by reading Nicholas Carr’s Atlantic Monthly article "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" and Motoko Rich's NYTimes article "Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?"
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Blame Game© - Part 2
Whether we are dealing with homework responsibilities, apportioning screen time, analyzing grades, assessing athletic playing time, or setting curfews, here are some strategies to employ when you suspect that a child (your son or daughter or your student) has not met certain expectations or agreed upon goals:
• Ask the other invested adults first rather than assume neglect or mistake on the other adult’s part.
• Approach other interested adults, asking how can we help the child move forward.
• Always temper urges to bring relief to one’s own frustration or ego by immediately resorting to blame.
• Reflect on a viable solution and present it to the other adult(s), asking for their thoughts and ideas.
• By all means solicit information from the child on why he/she has not met expectations. Be ready to (re)adjust expectations to meet the child’s abilities.
• Make goals, objectives, or conditions concrete for the child by using paper and pencil, constantly referring back to the written word well before completion dates.
• Strip away the emotion when dealing with the child, parent or teacher and envisioned expectations. Move forward on (re)adjusting goals and expectations and always work in support of the child.
In our world of parenting and education, blame lurks everywhere and begs to be used. Let us as parents and educators work together on behalf of our children, avoiding The Blame Game©—a game that invariably cripples, distorts and interferes with our ability to work for our children, supporting them as they grow and mature. Avoiding blame with one adult will multiply to others . . . and others . . . to a whole generation. I vividly remember the prophetic song, The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics. It was on the Top 10 chart in 1989, and if you listen to an easy-listen radio station, you will inevitable hear it. The song’s lyrics begin
Every generation Blames the one before And all of their frustrations Come beating on your door
Let us agree to leave The Blame Game© in a box on the shelf.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The Blame Game© - Part 1
Players: At least two adults and one child.
Equipment: A pointer finger on each adult. Note: A board is not necessary, but the game becomes more intense when the child claims boredom at school or the adults are bored with their own lives.
Game Play: The adults establish goals and expectations for the child. As soon as the child does not meet the goals, adults begin to point fingers at one another, attempt to shift responsibility, and blame the other adult, asking what he/she did to interfere with the child not achieving the set goals and expectations.
Time Limit: The appeal to The Blame Game © is that the Game can be played forever — all throughout life. So long as there is a child and the adults who care for the child are willing to set goals and expectations for the child, blame will always hover.
Winning: When one adult backs down and accepts the blame or when the child accomplishes the established goals on his or her own.
Variations: Insert a grandparent as one of the adults or introduce one or more of the following: divorce, job change, or move to a new school. Then watch The Blame Game© accelerate. Also, the Game can take on an interesting flavor when two educators gang up on a parent or two parents corner a new teacher.
we can circumvent the inevitable emotional strife, work in the best interest of the child, and create an environment that is productive and supportive of the child.
1. to consider somebody to be responsible for something wrong or unfortunate that has happened
2. to find fault with somebody (used in negative statements and questions) blame n responsibility for something wrong or unfortunate that has happened *
How often do we find ourselves as parents and teachers mired in blame, losing sight of support for the child? Throughout my years as a parent and educator, I cannot count the times I have listened to parents and teachers blaming the other for a child’s perceived failure. Too much time is spent on assigning blame to the other parent (especially in dysfunctional families), or to the teacher, or from the teacher to the parent, or from the teacher to the administration or vice versa. Somehow, we inevitably lose sight of the objectives by reverting to blame, which often is the catharsis of choice in dealing with our own frustrations.
Blame can be found in all forms and in most cultures, and never fails to touch our lives. I distinctly remember reading Rising Sun a novel by Michael Crichton where the author carefully differentiates between American and Japanese cultures, analyzing responses and approaches to a problem. The story was clear about how Americans perseverate on the need to assign blame for the problem or mistake and the Japanese tend to side-step blame and go directly to correcting the problem.
* Encarta World English Dictionary, 1999 Microsoft Corporation
To be continued . . .
Sunday, July 20, 2008
It's a Boy
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
An American Educating Children Abroad
My favorite quote in the book is where he opens chapter 4 with "Greatness is always built on this foundation: the ability to appear, speak, and act as the most common man." -Shams-ud-din Muhammed Hafiz. I believe this is the route to crippling classism.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Click over to his TED Talk and hear him talk about "What we can learn from spaghetti sauce" (17:42). Much like the theories of Daniel Pink, Gladwell uses the research of Howard Moscowitz in analyzing what people like and what sells.