I already know the problem you’ll have after watching this video. You’ll think you can’t do it. But if you listen all the way to the end, you’ll hear the key and discover that you actually can. Let me explain.
Dave Eggers is an incredibly passionate, creative, and energetic guy. I don’t want to spoil this video, but you should know his day job involves writing. “Once upon a school” is spoken, but it’s an incredible story with some both inspiring and funny examples of what happens when you create a mixture that includes passion, kids and learning.
For a few years now, I’ve considered myself a bit of advocate for kids, teachers, and schools. This guy could become my hero because he’s done something that’s all too rare. He’s created a wildly successful (and fairly large) program without losing sight of the most important truth. Ultimately, the most effective advocacy is about one human interaction at a time.
So watch this, but don’t leave it thinking you can’t do it or that you are inadequate. Figure out some way — not necessarily as big and bold as Egger’s — to get together with a kid and have one human interaction.
There’s an incredibly important statistic early on in the video–studies have shown that just 30-40 hours per year of individual attention and instruction can advance a student one grade level. You don’t have to be real good at math. Three hours per month does it. Spend it listening to and encouraging a kid–your own or somebody else’s.
Small People; Big Brains – a collection of stories about simplicity, wonder and exploration by “Mr. Boomsma”… Sign up for an email announcement of the date this entertaining and inspiring book making the point that while we are trying to teach kids about life, they can show us how to live.
Registering creates no obligation–just an opportunity!
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
I’ve had this quote sitting in my “hold” file for quite some time because I thought I wanted to decide whether I loved it or hated it. The dilemma piqued my interest enough to do some research… and that research revealed that Viktor Frankl was, in fact, a concentration camp survivor. His work (along with that of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche) in psychiatry also served as the basis for “existential therapy.” That’s a topic way too deep for a snowy Wednesday afternoon. If you’re feeling particularly heady, you might do some “googling” and learn a little about this interesting man.
When I did, I discovered yet a recommendation he made. He’s attributed with suggesting that the Statute of Liberty on the East Coast of our country should be complemented by a Statute of Responsibility on the West Coast. That’s a pretty good topic for consideration on any sort of afternoon.
I also have decided that, like having two statutes, I can both hate and love the quote. What I “hate” about it is that it’s a stark reminder of the horrible potential that exists in human beings. What I love about the quote is it’s a stark reminder of the potential for positive power that exists in human beings.
There was a time when we spent many hours in college classes (and after) considering these things. I do miss those times and am a little sad that I’ve not had an intense philosophical discussion in a long time. But on a snowy afternoon in Maine as I consider these heady concepts I find myself tempted to just go outside and make two snowmen. (A first grader gave me his drawing of “Frosty” yesterday I could use as a model. I chuckled at his lack of hesitation and amount of detail provided when I asked him who the snowman was.) Perhaps we should all build a “Frosty of Liberty” and a “Frosty of Responsibility.” In my snowy world, they are both the same size and they can, in fact, coexist.
Thanks to WordPress tracking, I’ve learned which were my three “most viewed” posts of 2012. In case you missed them, here’s the report and another chance to read them:
Making Change and Not Making Changes included some musings about a summer vacation to “Amish Country” and an old favorite farm stand. What makes this most popular position even more interesting is that I published quite a few reviews on TripAdvisor relative to that same vacation… My most popular/liked review was “The More Things Change…” my observations regarding our return visit after a ten year absence. Perhaps, as it has been said, “The Amish are islands of sanity it the whirlpool of change.”
Giving Up Teaching… I don’t know how much my “attention-getting” headline had to do with the ranking of this post, but it seemed important to share an important shift in my focus when I’m in the classroom. While I don’t fully subscribe to the idea of replacing the “sage on the stage” with the “guide on the side,” I do believe “The ultimate classroom management takes place when we engage the learners’ mind as well as their pencils.”