Whatever I teach, I teach storytelling because it is an expression of human creativity that provides perspective. Stories help us understand our world by showing us that random events surrounding our lives only seem random, but are in fact connected. Stories enable us to perceive a higher level of meaning. Fiction such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Alex Haley’s Roots explore the role of cultural storytelling in personal formation. Aesop uses “The Tortoise and the Hare” to explain the virtue of diligence, and Ernest Hemingway critiques modernist conventions of storytelling in “Snows of Kilimanjaro.” Continue reading
Books are good for your brain
Turn yourself into a bookworm. These techniques will help you read more.
Reading books can exercise your brain and even boost your emotional intelligence. Despite this, about a quarter of all Americans haven’t read a book in the last year and our overall book-reading time is on the decline.
In the new year, it’s time to buck this trend. But how do you find the time to read full-length books—and why should you bother in the first place? Continue reading
By now, many parents know there is something seriously wrong with the average American school. Time and again, children go into the school system as bright bundles of energy, curious about the surrounding world, and time and again, they stagger through the system frustrated and losing their interest in learning. Unfortunately, parents have firsthand knowledge of what former New York teacher John Taylor Gatto explained in his book, Weapons of Mass Instruction:
“After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress genius because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.”
That’s easy enough to say, but is it actually possible to do? Continue reading
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that a Kansas state freshman Republican representative hopes to help struggling college students burdened by the already high cost of textbooks via tax relief. Rep. Rick Hoheisel suggests that Kansas exempt all textbooks from the statewide 6.5% sales tax, thus saving students money each year they buy new books for their curriculum.
Rep. Hoheisel is a recent college graduate and remembers quite well that he would have to shell out big bucks each year simply to afford required reading. While Kansas cannot control the price of textbooks directly, the state government can control the taxes imposed on said products. Continue reading
Writing in The Atlantic, Paul Barnwell says that students today have a “broken moral compass” because “The pressures of national academic standards have pushed character education out of the classroom.”
One of the reasons I wrote A Gift of Wonder was to share a picture in which character education is integrated with academics. I discovered that this approach made my lessons engaging and thus made it easier for students to grasp the academic content because they were never bored. Continue reading
A new bill has reportedly been pre-filed in South Carolina that would require high school students in the state to take a personal finance class.
Under the legislation from Republican state Sen. Luke Rankin, high school students would be required to take at least one half-credit personal finance course and pass a test at the end of the school year in order to graduate, a local ABC station recently reported. Continue reading
This is the big issue in education that nobody is talking about. I wrote this Post for Scary Mommy in September of 2017 about public school teachers losing professional autonomy. ~ K.A.
They will be extinct by 2033 if the current rate of loss continues.
Like most endangered creatures, their habitat is threatened. When you were a child they were present in every city and town in the United States, but now their world has changed. They can be found only in rare, hospitable environments.
I’m not talking about polar bears, the red wolf, or the pygmy rabbit. The endangered ones I speak of here are not four-legged animals, but an important category of educators: teachers with a high level of professional freedom. Continue reading
A Teacher’s Advice to Parents in One Short List
According to studies and parents themselves, parenting can make you tired, overwhelmed and anxious. And no wonder. The parent zone includes marinara drizzled onto your new beige carpet, more hours in the car than in your bed and entire mountain ranges of laundry. Plus you are responsible for the health and well being of someone who means more to you than joy itself. My sense is that researchers who study parenting are finding nothing new; exhaustion, occasional (or perpetual) feelings of being overwhelmed and chronic anxiety have plagued parents since basically forever. Continue reading
Just 24 percent of millennials demonstrated a basic understanding of financial concepts, according to a recent PwC study.
Finance is hard to see. And as a result, finance can be hard to understand – especially for kids! Let me explain. My sister goes to the grocery store with her debit card. She swipes the card and leaves the grocery store with the card and a bag of groceries.
From her son’s perspective, it seems like a sweet deal! It doesn’t look like my sister gave anything up to get the groceries. Her son doesn’t see the exchange; he doesn’t see that money left my sister’s bank account and went into the shopkeeper’s bank account. He doesn’t see that my sister first earned the money after she provided services to hospital patients. If my sister used a credit card instead of a debit card, the exchange would have been even more confusing! Now a credit card company is lending money to my sister? Continue reading
They sit in front of a screen for five hours a day, hundreds of people at desks moving through the programs, step by step. Once a week they meet with a person for fifteen minutes. Occasionally they join a group listening briefly to a speaker. But mostly they interact with a screen, reading and giving answers. They try to keep on task, but sometimes they can’t resist the lure of a computer game. When the wi-fi is down they just sit, waiting. One day, fed up with the eerie quiet, with eye strain, with boredom, they walk out in protest.
Who are these people? Continue reading
…and do NOT let them use the cell phones, computers or pads as an excuse that they are “reading.” But on the other hand – if you are watching the news… those who do the caption work for television can’t spell – so just be careful.
Hey – read a book with the kids. Hmmmmmmmm….
Whenever people gather to discuss problems in education, we hear the same list of issues and solutions.
We hear about poverty and the need for bigger budgets at all levels, more self-esteem, professional teacher corps, charter schools, vouchers, tutoring and remediation, new literacies, better assessment, year-round schools, pre-K, schools that are more permissive or more strict, the effects of drugs, the impact of violent sports, and the perpetual need for more and more money. Continue reading
At the start of the school year teachers and homeschoolers plan out their year, listing fun math projects, great sweeps of history to share, music to sing and stories to tell. As we look ahead to the fall we anticipate the dimming of the light, perhaps an autumn gale or two and weather growing ever colder. This turning of the year is a time to summon the warmth of courage as the cold increases and the light of goodness as the sun grows dimmer.
Here is a story that I wrote a few years ago for Martinmas, a November festival of light and goodness celebrated in Waldorf Schools. It’s called The Children of the Light and it’s a back to school gift for anyone interested in it. It is a story about a family that tends a lighthouse and the goodness of children at a challenging time. Continue reading
The report recommends that pediatricians take a more active role in explaining to parents the value of childhood play.
Kids need to play. It seems like an obvious statement, as central to childhood as eating peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches and chasing fireflies. For generations, parents have known that a play-filled childhood is essential for healthy physical and mental development. They didn’t need to read the latest research findings on play. They didn’t need experts to tell them it’s important. They just knew it. Kids are designed by nature to play, and parents have generally let them. Continue reading
When given the opportunity to make choices about which school their child attends, parents are quite competent.
As back-to-school time approaches, parents are bracing for school-related trauma. The threat of bullying, violence, school shootings, and mental health maladies looms large as a new school year emerges. A 2018 PDK poll found that one-third of parents are concerned about their child’s safety at school, a sharp jump in recent years. And it’s not just peer harassment that worries parents. The Miami-Herald reported last month that an experienced teacher who was named “teacher of the year” this year in Florida, was caught on video calling a kindergartener a “loser.”
Some parents are fed up. They want options other than a mandatory, assigned district school. Continue reading