Category Archives: Sometimes a Great Notion

This is where we will find success stories – with students, teachers, families – and yes – once in awhile – a particular school, or district that has overcome adversity to provide a winning agenda. HEY – if nothing else – look at the work of people such as Kim Allsup. Yeah – Kim is here too.

This is how to help children find their moral compass

Photo by Tobias Aeppli

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

South Carolina bill would require high school students to take personal finance class

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

Allsup: The Core of Good Parenting is the Fun Stuff…

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

4 Ways to Teach Kids Finance

Just 24 percent of millennials demonstrated a basic understanding of financial concepts, according to a recent PwC study.

Flickr-MIKI Yoshihito | CC BY 2.0 (

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

Allsup: Real Kids Need Real Teachers

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

Reading lessons…

…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….

K-12: Six Steps to Reform Education Right Now

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

His Father’s Hands

A different way of looking at life – the way it used to be. Although the following was written several years ago, I just came across it on Facebook tonight. Learn the lessons of life. pass this along to your children and grandchildren – have them READ it out loud to you, and then talk WITH them about it. ~ Ed.

A young man went to seek an important position at a large printing company. He passed the initial interview and was going to meet the director for the final interview. The director saw his resume, it was excellent. And asked, “Have you received a scholarship for school?”

The boy replied, “No”. Continue reading

Children of the Light: A Story for Parents and Teachers to Tell

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

Pediatricians Are Now Writing ‘Prescriptions for Play‘ During Well-Child Visits

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

Parents Should Be Free to Choose Safer Schools

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

How to Replicate J.R.R. Tolkien’s Education for Your Child

J. R. R. Tolkien is one of the most famous authors of the 20th century. Known for the mythical worlds and creatures he presented in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien is beloved for his way with words and his imaginative genius.

Tolkien’s fame, lovability, and worldwide influence are the types of things most parents dream of seeing flower and bloom in their own children. Unfortunately, there is no set formula that parents can follow to cultivate children who are successful and impactful like Tolkien. However, parents can glean a number of insights from Tolkien’s upbringing in the hopes of awakening some of the same hidden genius in their own offspring. Continue reading

Louis L’Amour: Western Writer and Western Principles

Louis L’Amour – famed western writer, penned roughly 130 Western novels, and short stories, to include the old Maverick television series; I have perused as many as 75% of his books – like many a sailor of my era, I became almost addicted to L’Amour in the USN; reading some of his books more than once… His’ Education of a Wandering Man is (an autobiography in which L’Amour not only recounts his life’s sundry diverse experiences which took place before he settled down to write; he details – by year – the hundreds of books which he studied; books of Classical Literature, Philosophy, Law etc.) included in a number of scholar’s recommended books lists, some quite surprising e.g., Father James V. Schall (S.J.) includes L’Amour’ book in his book titled: Another Sort of Learning. Continue reading

Schrock Taylor: Literacy’s Last Hurrah

July 28, 2018 ~ Some weeks ago, I received a note from this dear lady, teacher, EDUCATOR, author and amazing friend. The occasion was the announcement that I would be closing the Federal Observer after seventeen years. Linda was an integral part of it’s formative to mid-years. Like the writers of older days, Shakespeare, Dickens, Melville, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and so may others – Linda Schrock-Taylor stands up at the front of her kind. Her teaching never gets old. Her commentary is as fresh today at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year as it was when written seven years ago – and I fear that it will still be fresh decades from now – UNLESS WE – the parents, grandparents and the REAL teachers of this nation – stand up and not demand… but MAKE the necessary changes. ~ Ed.
Continue reading

Jackie Robinson: A Letter

There are times in my continued search for worthwhile pieces to post, that I come across posts of note that do not seem to have anything to do with education – and the following is an example of just such a post. In actuality, it was an advertisement for a hand-signed letter from Baseball legend and (later) political activist – Jackie Robinson. THIS was an American who made his mark. ~ Ed.

Historical Background
After retiring from Major League Baseball in 1957, Robinson wrote a news column, hosted a radio program, and served as vice president of Chock Full O’ Nuts coffee. He also became vitally interested in politics at a great turning point in American history. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the civil rights movement reached its apex, and African-Americans were shifting their allegiance from the Republican to the Democratic Party. Robinson worked with the NAACP, and joined A. Philip Randolph in leading a student march on Washington in 1958. Continue reading