Schoolyard Nastiness and Democracy

I too despair at watching my president stoop to schoolyard nastiness. 

David Leonhardt, New York Times, June 30, 2017

Why do we expect our democracy to function better than our schoolyard? Because we don’t get what should be going on at school. The schoolyard is prime testing ground for how the kids are coming along in their preparation for democracy. What we see in the schoolyard is what we should expect to see in our government. Continue reading

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Decision-Making: The Key Variable in School Culture

I never let my schooling interfere with my education.

– Mark Twain

Making schooling educational requires changing school culture. School reform keeps failing not because of standards or curriculum or poverty or parents or privatization or technology or tests or textbooks or money. It certainly doesn’t fail for want of trying. It fails because of culture. Continue reading

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Executive Function Coaching Saves Lives

Here’s is a recent report from Executive Function Coach and Trainer Erin Wilson:

“‘I am on the Aurora Bridge and getting ready jump.’

I need help.

That’s what one of my high school students said to me when I answered my cell phone one Friday evening.”

“I had just gotten home from school, the Seattle summer had started early, and I was exhausted. I was getting a popsicle out of the freezer and beginning to settle down when my phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize, but I had broken the rule of not giving my phone number out to students; so, student was my guess.

“I thought about ignoring it—Oh, come on! It’s Friday evening!—but I hit the green button anyway. Continue reading

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Creating a Life: The Purpose of School

Could creating a life be the purpose of school?

Could creating a life be the purpose of school? Why not? When it is, everything works right. When schools have other ends in mind, they get discipline problems, dropouts and lower performance.

By the end of September, seventh grader Kaden was sending himself to the In School Suspension room. “The teacher hates me. What’s the point? I’ll just come here and save us both the trouble.”

Continue reading

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Something American Schools Can Learn from Japan: You Matter

You Matter

The minute I appeared in the front hall of Kugayama School the receptionist got up from behind his desk, opened the glass door of the administrative offices and came out to greet me with a smile, a bow and “Ohayoo gozaimasu.” The feeling that I mattered was inescapable. All day long, this same message was communicated to me at least a hundred times by everyone in many ways. From the first bow to the last goodbye the people in this large Japanese school made me feel that I mattered. Continue reading

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