Collective Genius

by Rick on April 11, 2014

Early in my first year as principal I found myself sitting across the table from a clean-cut, successful looking lawyer/parent who had put his daughter into the second grade of my school a month ago. As soon as we returned from the buffet at his downtown Kansas City club with plates full of samplings from the cornucopia of the affluent, he got right to the point:

“There is a boy in my daughter’s class who is using bad language and bullying kids. Read More…

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How to Give Kids a Work Ethic

by Rick on April 4, 2014

I read in the paper, “Kids these days need to be taught a work ethic.” Read More…

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How do you get yourself admitted to a prestigious graduate school of science and technology? It’s not what you think.

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Nick Smith, a thirty-something friend sent me an email in response to my article Technology Fear Mongering at the Huffington Post. The resulting conversation turned into ten reasons “bad” technology is good for your kids.

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 On March 6th the Huffington Post posted a disgraceful bit of fear mongering by Cris Rowan under the title: 10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12. They are pandering to insecure parents who are already at risk for over-protecting their children.

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We understand conflict as a bad thing, but conflict is an opportunity to find our center. Read More…

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At dinner one evening, when my daughter, Lizzie, was in first grade, she said: “You know how some teachers just let you play? Well, I want to know stuff, and that’s why I like Ms. Lexton; she teaches us stuff.”

Cheryl Lexton was a brand new teacher out of Teacher’s College in NYC when she walked in the door of my school and asked the receptionist if there were any teaching jobs. The receptionist called me, and I invited her into my office. When Cheryl said she had gotten an A+ in her student teaching, I hired her.

No mistakes here! The kids all loved her; the parents, too. My daughter was a lucky beneficiary.

What did Cheryl Lexton do right? Two things: Read More…

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The Need to Contribute

by Rick on February 12, 2014

To Contribute is a Basic Human Need

Ever play give-and-take with babies? They pick a carrot off the tray of their highchair and hold it out to you. You take it, say “Thank you,” and give it back to them, but it rarely stops there. They almost always give it back to you. They get more delight at getting the “Thank you,” than getting the piece of food.

I’ve seen an 18-month-old get down from the kitchen table, go to the counter to get the milk carton, bring it back and give it to his big sister. I’ve seen a four-year-old save his little brother from a heavy, glass door, and a two-year-old give his thirsty little sister his sippy-cup. I’ve seen a fifteen-month-old get her 30-month-old big brother to stop raging when the adults were powerless to make him stop. She gave him a hug. Read More…

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 Man should not try to avoid stress any more than he would shun food, love or exercise.

–Hans Selye

Each of us has a genius. I am not saying each of us IS a genius. In fact BEING a genius is a distraction from what is really important: getting to know our genius and building a relationship with it so that it can guide us into and through the challenges that comprise our lives.

When my flight from San Francisco arrived at O’Hare International Airport at 3:45 several Friday’s ago it was snowing. This fact should have alerted me to shift my inner anxiety regulator from DBL mode (Don’t Be Late) to WGF mode (Who Gives a Flurry). But, no. Read More…

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Do you know anyone who suffers from any of the following symptoms?
1. Motivated by immediate needs
2. Consequences for negative behavior don’t alter future actions
3. Inability to reflect on past experience to plan for the future
4. Difficulty adapting to change
5. Sees personal problems as externally caused. Unable to see his/her own contribution to the problem.
6. Difficulty taking other’s perspective
7. May vacillate from impulsivity to rigidity
8. May continue to use the same strategy to solve a problem after it’s proven ineffective.
9. Doesn’t stop and select a strategy that fits a problem before trying to solve it
10. Little awareness of personal limitations or weaknesses, even if presented constructively
11. Difficulty and/or lack of interest in setting goals
12. Little sense of pleasure in making progress toward a goal
13. Difficulty taking initiative
14. Rapid mood fluctuations
15. Insensitivity to inner emotional state. May “act out” an emotion, rather than verbalize a feeling.
16. Gives up easily when frustrated
17. Very poorly developed self concept
18. Lack of empathy?

Do you know anyone with these symptoms? I do. I have a few of them, myself.
“Executive Functioning Disorders are Characterized by the Following Symptoms:” is the title of this list published by a reputable educator, psychologist and learning disabilities specialist Dr. Rachelle Sheely.

She is in good company. Such lists of symptoms of dysfunctions are pervasive.
But look at this list simply through the eyes of your experience going through the challenges of life, and the list brings the field of education to the point of self-mockery. Read More…

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