The Myth of Self-Acceptance

by Rick on May 24, 2016

Collaborate. Create. Contribute, and stop chasing after self-acceptance. Read More…

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“Do you use blocks in your classroom?” was an interview question we asked when searching for a lower elementary teacher. “Why?” was a follow up question. We didn’t hire someone until we heard a good answer.

Are there right and wrong answers to this question? Yes.  All right answers include something about “brain development.” Some examples: Read More…

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Play is the highest form of research 

– Albert Einstein

When adults fear for their children’s future success, they tend to see play as a frivolous waste of time. They are just as wrong about that today as they have been in the past.

Play is necessary for optimal brain development. In fact, Read More…

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The Soul of Creativity

by Rick on April 22, 2016

Ever thought about the fact that 4-year-olds know the past tense of 10,000 verbs having heard only 100 or so? You notice this gift when you hear them make a mistake like “goed” or “eated.” Equally impressive is how quickly they learn that they are wrong. In no time they are saying “went” and “ate.” They handle being wrong better than we adults do. Read More…

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Thank You for Criticizing

by Rick on April 5, 2016

Is it wise to criticize?

DSC00166A few years ago I taught Andre Perry’s class of fourth and fifth graders in order to give Andre a break so that he could plan with another teacher. Easiest and best teaching I ever did. I couldn’t fail because he had designed the class so that the students would educate each other. Criticism was the essential design element. Read More…

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After one of my workshops on “Finding Your Genius” at a school last year, the mother of fourth-grader Maya told me of the struggle Maya had with social anxiety. Read More…

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I’m shocked! Shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here.

—Claude Rains in “Casablanca”

The powerlessness of people on a school bus in Upstate New York on June 23, 2012, resonated with people all over America. Four seventh graders cruelly and mercilessly mocked Karen Klein, a 68-year old bus monitor, and one of them caught 14 minutes of this horror show on camera. It went viral and Americans were shocked.

Shocked? Shame on us. Read More…

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Who are the great leaders?

by Rick on March 8, 2016

Great Moments, Not Great Leaders

Great Moments blog 1.docx

“Who are the great leaders?”

When I was asked this question over a cup of coffee recently, a 15-month-old popped to mind, and I found myself telling a story about a moment a couple of years ago when my wife Victoria and I were waiting in Los Angeles Airport for a flight to San Francisco.

We had just been told that our flight would be delayed, and as we grumped into our seats at gate 70A to wait, a family of four caught our attention on the other side of the concourse. A woman with a 15-month-old on her hip stood calmly with her husband while their two-year-old son attacked his stroller in a rage.

We watched this painful scene in empathic agony for a while. Then Victoria said, “Look! A couple of your clients.”

I smiled at her joke, but as I kept watching this family in pain, I got an inkling. “Hmmm. A couple of my clients,” I said to myself. I watched a little longer, and then, taking a small risk, I got off my seat, walked across the concourse and went up to them with no idea of what I would say. As I got within smiling distance, I smiled. When I was in speaking distance I said: “I just want you to know how impressed I am with how well you are handling this difficult situation.”

They both smiled, relaxed, and we started talking about kids as the two-year-old continued to rage on.

While we talked, the mother put her daughter onto the terrazzo floor of the concourse. Barely able to walk, this little toddler toddled over to her big, raging brother and gave him a hug. He hugged her back, his rage subsided and peace returned to gate 70A at LAX.

As I told the story, I realized it was a story about a great moment, not a great person. Victoria had exercised leadership by saying: “Look a couple of your clients.” I took leadership by deciding to do something—I didn’t know what. The mother exercised leadership by releasing her daughter, who showed up as the hero of the scene. It’s as if that 15-month-old had been sitting on her mother’s hip saying, “Put me in, coach. I know how to handle this situation.” Read More…

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Papa You’re Not Reading Right

by Rick on February 18, 2016

geniusineverychildNatalie’s grandfather was reading to her, but after a while she said, “Papa, you’re not reading right,” took the book from him, and started to read. (In her face one can catch a glimpse of her a notion of what it means to read right.) Her grandmother, photographer Julie Carter, took this photo and gave it to me for the cover of the book.

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Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing. Instead of offering empathy, we often have a strong urge to give advice and to explain our own position of feeling. Empathy, however, calls upon us to empty our mind and listen to others with our whole being.  – Marshall Rosenberg

Bobby’s music class in the Montessori school was going very well. The lower elementary class was dancing to a clavé rhythm and enthusiastically singing, “Shave. Hair cut. Shampoo” in time. It seemed that all the students were engaged, but on closer inspection one boy was not. Marco wasn’t doing anything.

Read More…

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