Sunday, November 28, 2010

Will Focus Make You Happier?

This is from Ned Hallowell, MD, a psychiatrist who served as an instructor at Harvard Medical School for 20 years, and is the director of the Hallowell Centers in New York City and Sudbury, Massachusetts. He has written two popular Harvard Business Review articles and authored eighteen books, including the national bestseller Driven to Distraction. He recently spoke at the NYSAIS Heads Conference at Mohonk. As someone who craves focus - mostly learned from years of bike racing and rock climbing - I wholeheartedly believe that is where our happiness lies. Good article for all to see. Will Focus Make You Happier?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Follow up to Race to Nowhere

We had an amazing draw for the screening of "Race to Nowhere" last week at the Palace Theater. The folks at the Palace estimated close to 400 people. Our post-movie panel did a great job fielding questions and concerns from the audience too. The following day, Dewey Meyers PhD, MD from the panel and myself went on WCNY TV with our panel moderator George Kilpatrick for CNY Central Issues. The conversation was broadcast that night. Needless to say, people in CNY want to talk about education and what makes a good education for their children.

So what's next? What does MPH do next to keep this conversation going and to take a leadership role? I heard from parents, teachers and students this week during conferences and at the supermarket who want to investigate and engage in this dialogue now more than ever.

I have an idea on how we can facilitate this community need: put together another event, sponsored by MPH, showcasing our commitment to 21st Century learning, to innovative teaching, and to helping students grow up to be capable performers. In the new year, MPH should design a weekend around this idea, where we can showcase what we do, have speakers discuss the importance 21st Century learning and define what 21st Century learning actually "is." Can if happen? I think so. We have already started the discussions here...and this a why MPH is such a great place to work - and to send your kids to school. What other Pk - 12 school in CNY is willing to embrace the life of the mind with such conviction and curiosity? I love it.


Monday, November 15, 2010

MPH's to show Race to Nowhere at the Palace Nov. 17th

Manlius Pebble Hill School will present a preview of the new film, “Race to Nowhere,” at the Palace Theater at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 17. The documentary – free to the public – examines what today’s pervasive high-stakes, high-pressure educational culture is really doing to our children.

The film contends that high-stakes testing contributes to cheating, stress-related illness, depression, and burnout and has largely replaced meaningful teaching and learning.

“The message in this film really must be heard by parents and educators, by all of us who love and work with children,” said Baxter Ball, head of school at MPH.

“The current obsession with tests, the pressure to out-perform everyone else in everything from academics to sports and music, the competition to get into the so-called ‘best’ colleges… this is all placing unprecedented stress on students today,” Ball said.

The audience is invited to remain, following the film, to participate in a discussion with local childhood experts and educators on issues raised in the film. The discussion panel will include Jeffery Mangram, assistant professor in Syracuse University’s School of Education; Dewey Meyers, Ph.D., child psychologist; Paul Gasparini, principal of Jamesville-DeWitt High School; Fatima El-Hindi, founder of the NAS Learning Center, a private weekend school that offers instruction in Arabic and Islamic history; and Baxter Ball, head of school at MPH.

“Race to Nowhere,” being screened in select locations across the country, raises issues fundamental to the current debate over education in America. Said Ball: “Its messages about the impact on students of competition, testing, excessive homework, and the pressure to achieve deserve our immediate attention.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

Will a kid be the next tech person at your office?

There was a fascinating blog entry on the other day ("When the Tech Guy Is 13 (or Even 10)" By DAVID H. FREEDMAN) Of course, as a middle school educator, I was not at all surprised by Mr. Freedman's question "Can a kid help run the computers and applications that are close to the guts of your business?" Mr. Freedman says "maybe," while I say yes. We all know some 12 year old who has the technological savvy of a young Bill Gates. Remember, Bill Gates was a whiz coder at Lakeside School in Seattle, an independent school, when he was 14.

So it's not so incredible to think of students as problem solvers when it comes to tech. Perhaps a school's tech department should think the same the next time the wireless goes down...


Monday, November 1, 2010

Childhood is another country and we should go visit again

Josie Holford, Head of Poughkeepsie Day School posted a wonderful piece about taking kindergarten back to where it belongs - back to the kids. This quote really encapsulates her view and one I think any discerning reader can appreciate: "Childhood is another country: they do things differently there." But why isn't this resonating more loudly with adults? Sir Ken Robinson, expert on creative thought and renown thinker on education states the same thing. Robinson writes that "there is a paradox. Most children think they’re highly creative: most adults think they’re not." What happens to us as we grow up? Around the globe companies and organizations are trying to compete in a world of economic and technological change that is moving faster than ever and they urgently need people who are "creative, innovative and flexible." Are we as schools providing the 21st Century with the kind of problem solvers that it needs?

Read more: Childhood is another country | The Compass Point
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