Measuring What Matters: Enthusiasm

by Rick on February 7, 2016

What if we evaluated schools by the level of enthusiasm in them? Parents naturally do. For the last 40 years in four different cities (Kansas City, New York, Oakland and San Francisco) parents have been beating down the doors to pay tens of thousands of dollars to send their kids to schools because of the level of enthusiasm they felt when they visited classes. Almost no one ever asks about test scores. What sells is the enthusiasm they feel when they enter the school. The same is true for teachers looking for employment. Naturally! Enthusiasm is the best driver of success. Read More…


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.

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Musa was mad as his mother drove them away from dropping his big brother off at an event for older children. He wanted to go, too. Tagging along with his toddler brother and his mother was unworthy of all that was inside him. Something deep down in this four-year-old told him he was ready for bigger things. Out of sorts, he misbehaved all the way home.

An hour later, as they sat together at the kitchen table, Musa was still making his mother run through her entire repertoire of counter-insurgency parenting tricks until, frustrated and exhausted from battling his bad attitude, she simply stopped reacting and sat in silence.FullSizeRender-3

After a few minutes of silence Musa said, “It’s okay, Mom. You can make a thousand mistakes, and I will still love you.

Completely cured, she beamed love back at him and replied, “You can make a million mistakes, and I will still love you.”

But Musa said, “I don’t make steaks. I make hot dogs.” Read More…


Is Christmas for all Faiths an Oxymoron?

Is it sacrilegious for non-Christians to celebrate Christmas? Is it sacrilegious for Christians to celebrate Christmas without mentioning Jesus?

Tune in to the CBS Christmas special tonight at 11:30 PM and decide for yourself. Or go to and view a Christmas special for all faiths.

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Tribal Fear is the Enemy

by Rick on December 8, 2015

A good test of the quality of an education is the degree to which the educated are empowered  to act out of love rather than fear. Education builds confidence not paranoia, and helps everyone to widen their circles of friendship. Otherwise, the children will not only be unsuccessful and unhappy, but they’ll also go up in smoke.

Norman Rockwell_ The Problem We All Live With « Abagond

Fear Ignorance, Not Muslims



Do you realize that it is distinctly possible for a child to reach the age of 18 without ever having done something upon which someone else depended?

–Uri Bronfenbrenner Speech to Parents and Teachers at Independent Schools in Kansas City, 1975

Tomorrow’s Change Makers Don’t Underestimate Children.

We can force external obedience; but a genuine character is always the outcome of what the child himself wishes at heart to do or be. At a very early age he already shows that he has likes, dislikes, impulses, propensities of his own. In recent years these have received close study; and thanks to the writings of Hall, Barnes, Dewey, Thorndike, Freud and others, we know that, troublesome as these impulses are, they are also our very best allies.

 Michael Vincent O’Shea (1866-1932) wrote this in The Child, His Nature and His Needs in 1924. Almost a hundred years later the message still needs to be heard across America today, and Marilyn Price-Mitchel says it.

Summarizing a mountain of research (over 150 sources) and in depth interviews and conversations with 22 young people aged 18-22, Price-Mitchell’s book, Tomorrow’s Change Makers: Reclaiming the Power of Citizenship, reports on how naturally young people take to the challenges presented by service learning projects. Read More…


True story: Frank had paid the extra 12 dollars to buy one of the first 15 positions on his Southwest flight from Chicago to Oakland. His boarding pass read A10, and consequently he was one of the first people on the plane. He selected an aisle seat six rows back, put his rollerbag in the overhead compartment, put his backpack on his seat, carefully placed his half-empty latte behind it on the seat and went to the back of the plane to use the bathroom.

When he got back, he couldn’t believe his eyes. A woman was sitting in his seat and his backpack and drink were in the middle seat next to it. This was especially surprising since there were still plenty of other isle seats available on the plane. Frank was shocked and furious at this transgression. “Bully!” he said to himself.

What should Frank do? What would you do?



“I have a proclamation:
Let today be the last day we joke that we are stupid or crazy. It’s not clever to pretend we hate what we love, and it wasn’t wrong study it.

“Let today be the last day we dismiss our ambitions before we’ve started. Does the world need another artist who’s already given up?

“Let today be the first day we refuse to be embarrassed to be artists. Ironic detachment gets us nowhere….”

2015-05-22 11-10-41 1 on Vimeo






So now you’re a graduate. So, now what? Well, you only have one choice: Get a job and hope your genius will stop bugging you, or get a job and keep pursuing your calling.

Come on, Children…! The day of glory has arrived!



What’s the relationship between standardized testing and the aims of education?

Just before spring vacation Alex and Dylan saw me in the hallway outside their classroom. “Mr. Rick, Can we make an appointment to see you?” they asked almost in unison. We settled on two o’clock that afternoon.
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Groundhog Day for All Educators

by Rick on February 2, 2015

Today is Groundhog Day, but ever since I saw the movie “Groundhog Day,” February 2 is not so much about 6 more weeks of winter as the wonderful gift we have each been given to reinvent ourselves.

We all get comfortable with the way we are, even if the way we are doesn’t work so well for us. In the movie, Bill Murray’s character gets stuck in February 2. Once he realizes he is trapped in himself, he begins to grow, change and transform himself into a much happier person. The spell is finally broken. A must-see for all parents and other educators. One of my top five movies.

The only self we really want to be is our genius-self. All other selves must go.