Thursday, October 30, 2008

Building School Budgets

While I know that we all come from different communities from around the country, take a minute to click on "What it Costs" by  Alexandra Lebenthal and read her article.  I must admit that I initially dismissed the piece because it comes from "New York Social Diary," but quickly became engrossed when I read it and realized that the article represents our school communities from our best benefactors (and their unfortunate investment debacles) to the nannies, service providers, etc.

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?

Are you permissive, authoritative, authoritarian, or neglecting in your parenting style?

This past week we hosted Dr. Angeline Lillard, author of Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, who spoke to faculty, parents, and friends. Of the many topics she discussed regarding child development, I was most taken when she referred to Diana Baumrind's work on parenting styles. In the matrix above you can see the combinations of control and warmth that can lead toward four types of parenting styles.

If you review Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, 7th Edition (1998), in the discipline section (page 428) you will find similar parenting style categorizations and predictable child behavior outcomes.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

High Touch

Listening to bright, funny speakers like Daniel Pink is helpful and entertaining. Pink has a good outlook on society and what it wants from a product or service (See my March 30 post below). In his book A Whole New Mind he talks about "high concept" and "high touch."

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

Urban Kids

On a beautiful fall day, we rode the Number 2 subway to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with our Lower Elementary children (grades 1, 2, and 3). After exploring the lily pads, exotic fauna, and majestic trees, we gathered for lunch at nearby Prospect Park. Once we finished our park bench lunch, the children scattered to play in the open field.

As I made my way in and around the children, snapping pictures of their play, I found one first grade girl frolicking with several children. She eventually flopped onto her back and began to flail her arms and legs wildly. I pointed my camera directly over her and said, "You remind me of a fish out of water," to which she instantly replied, "No, I'm a cockroach on its back."

Gotta love kids - their quick wit and imaginations!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

At What Reading Level Do Politicians Speak?

When is speaking on a lower reading level better?  Politics, where else.

Click over to "The Takeaway" and the October 16 clip "A linguist's take on the final presidential debate between McCain and Obama" (5:43) to hear this fascinating report.   "Guest Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst, The Global Language Monitor. Payack has analyzed language patterns of all the presidential and vice presidential debates."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spring Awakening

I recently watched the 8-Tony Award winning play "Spring Awakening." Originally written in 1891 by Frank Wedekind, the two-act play captures all of the fragile innocence, disruptive exuberance, angst, and sometimes disturbing realities that come with adolescence. Listening to the music and watching the dancing and acting left no doubt as to why the play has lasted 100 years and won so many awards.

Similar to the adolescent confusion portrayed in Curtis Sittenfeld's bestselling book, Prep, the dialogue, music, and acting you feel and see in "Spring Awakening" are in 3D.

By watching this video, you will get an impression of what you can expect if you see this landmark play. The music amplifies the acting, and the words portray adolescent revolution - something we all experienced individually and through our children and students.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Clear Love in a Fog

Expressions of love between a parent and child always catch my eye, inspire me, and give me strength to help other parents find that kind of love when it proves elusive in their lives. I witnessed an especially beautiful demonstration of love one morning . . .

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

The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on our Sons, Their Problems, and What Parents and Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre is catching the eye of many parents and educators. I noticed that it is #16 on today's NYTimes Bestseller List. As a father of two sons and having taught in a junior boys boarding school, I am particularly interested in the education of boys and the impact it has on parents, classrooms, and the differences between girl and boy education.

After watching an msnbc interview with Tyre and reading her Newsweek article, "Struggling School-Age Boys," I am even more intrigued to pick up the book, make it a part of my gender education collection, and have it sit right next to Dr. Michael Thompson's Raising Caine: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Flow in Learning

Ever since I read one of his first books, Being Adolescent, in 1984, I have always been a huge fan of Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Chick sent me high). I rediscovered his research and work when I read about his "flow" theory. The chart at the right will give you an idea of "flow." When the challenge is high and the skills are high you enter "flow." For an interesting, in-depth explanation of "flow" click here.

Not unlike Dr. C's "flow" theory, "Can You Become a Creature of New Habits," a NYTimes article, discusses three zones of existence - comfort, stretch, and stress.