Friday, April 29, 2016

The Value of Education

Found on the Internet recently . . .

A father told his 3 sons when he sent them to the university: "I feel it's my duty to provide you with the best possible education and you do not owe me anything for that. However, I do want you to appreciate it. As a token, please each put $1,000 into my coffin when I die."

And so it happened. His sons became a doctor, a lawyer and a financial planner, each very successful financially. When their father’s time had come and they saw their father in the coffin, they remembered his wish. First, it was the doctor who put ten $100 bills onto the chest of the deceased. Then, came the financial planner who also put $1,000 there.  Finally, it was the heartbroken lawyer's turn.   He dipped into his pocket, took out his checkbook, wrote a check for $3,000, put it into his father's coffin and took the $2,000 cash. He later went on to become a member of Congress…

Friday, April 22, 2016

Being Black

In Between the World and Me, the author Ta-Nehisi Coates uses the book to write a letter to his son. Here is a poignant excerpt that will give you a flavor of his passionate letter:

"It does not matter that the "intentions" of individual educators were noble. Forget about intentions. What any institution, or its agents, "intend" for you is secondary. Our world is physical. Learn to play defense—ignore the head and keep your eyes on the body. Very few Americans will directly proclaim that they are in favor of black people being left to the streets. But a very large number of Americans will do all they can to preserve the Dream." (page 33)

As soon as I reached page 30 of the book, my mind wandered to another book, Black Like Me (1961) by John Howard Griffen, which I read in college. It gave me a similar insight, albeit that was the late 60s and Coates wrote his book in 2015. Between the World and Me was a perfect follow-up book to Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (See my April 9th post).

Friday, April 15, 2016

How Do You Make a Teacher Great?

In this powerful TED Talk, among other topics, Bill Gates answers the question How do you make a teacher great? (second half of talk).

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Bryan Stevenson and EJI

I first met Bryan Stevenson when I saw his moving TED Talk—"We need to talk about an injustice," a Talk that has the longest standing ovation in TED history. That was back in 2012. I then saw him on 60 Minutes and again was moved. Most recently, I sat in the front row at the annual American Montessori Society conference when he spoke to 4,000 educators. Like his TED Talk audience, he received the longest standing ovation I have ever witnessed for a keynote speaker at this conference. You could see that he himself was visibly moved by those who demonstrated their appreciation for his profound message.

But, for me, it was reading his NYTimes bestselling book Just Mercy that helped me understand his message best. It is a powerful book. There were times when I did not want to finish the book because of the anguish, frustration, and overwhelming abuse he (and the people he represents) experience in his work over the past 30 years. Ultimately, he founded the organization, Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). Clicking to the website will give you an insight into his important work and message.

Coincidentally, this morning, one of the lead stories for NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday is "Chicago Murder Rate Spikes." which helps to explain the significance of Stevenson's work.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Parents Who Bully the School

From NAIS Independent School - Spring 2016

"Parents Who Bully the School" by Michael Thompson and Robert Evans is a lead article in the spring issue of Independent School magazine. When you look at their combined experience in consulting to over 2,000 schools, you know the authors have a perspective on schools and parents that is well worth reading. Here is an opening excerpt from the article . . .

“But every school we visit — every single one — reports more frequent and more severe problems with parents. In this article, we offer some thoughts about the roots and context of the general trend, but our focus is on coping with the small minority of the most difficult: those who bully the school. These parents are habitually rude or demanding or disrespectful, engaging in personal attacks on teachers and administrators, demeaning and threatening them. They repeatedly violate the school’s policies, values, and norms of conduct.”

For educators and parents to learn more, click on the article link.