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It’s Testing Week!

It’s Testing Week!

In many schools across America, the much-heralded standardized tests have begun! Of the millions of events that take place in schools, standardized testing is the most misunderstood. Unhappily, it’s not just the parents who misunderstand why we undergo this annual ritual. Standardized testing had its origins not too many years ago. In the United States [...]

Pay Attention!

Pay Attention!

Teachers throughout the nation, at least those with a few years under their belts, are complaining about the inattentive generation now in their classrooms.  The students, they maintain, are seemingly unable to stay focused for even brief periods of time.  It is as if attention deficit disorder is not only contagious, but has become a [...]

Spring has Sprung

Spring has Sprung

What a dreadful winter!  I had the highest electric bill ever seen on the planet, then my heat pump went the way of all flesh, and the local weather systems kept the experts guessing about school closures.  Adios and good riddance! “Spring has sprung, the grass is riz.  I wonder where the flowers is.” That [...]

Let Him Go

Let Him Go

Today I’m going to share great wisdom! Moms and dads, sometimes you have to let go. Sometimes you have to allow your child to fail at a project or come in last in the competition, or even (gasp!) be chosen last. And you weren’t hardwired for this process. You were hardwired to care for your [...]

How Much Would You Pay?

How Much Would You Pay?

What would it be worth to learn how to read?  Would you pay as much as $10,000 for someone to teach you this skill?  Is it possible to assign a dollar amount to the value of learning?  Let me share some rounded data from recent research and perhaps we can come up with a reasonable [...]

What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story?

Today I challenge readers to share their stories. Tell your friend, your wife, your children. Share a story over a cup of coffee or at the dinner table. Tell your students about when you were in second grade. Your story matters. What in the world am I talking about? It’s simply this: every time I [...]

The Psychology of Success

The Psychology of Success

One might believe that giving praise to a student would inspire that student to continue down the road to success.  In fact, most of us realize that punishment is a way of keeping unacceptable behaviors at bay, but it takes positive reinforcement to move a person toward accomplishing a task.  The “reward-or-punishment” concept is simply [...]

Chores

Chores

Children should not have chores.  They make a larger mess trying to be “helpful” than if I did the work myself.  They are even too short to reach cleaning supplies so I have to be bothered to go get the necessary items.  Finally, the job is never done right.  After fighting with them (and ruining [...]

Polymath

Polymath

Well, there’s a word for you!  It comes from the Greek (as you erudite readers already guessed) and refers to a person who is highly and broadly educated.  A synonym that has fallen out of usage is “renaissance man”.  Polymaths are people who have received a liberal (“broad”) education and have literally “learned much” from [...]

Getting from A to B

Getting from A to B

What is the shortest distance between two points?  Yes!  You answered correctly!  Did we learn this in geometry class or is it simply painfully obvious to anyone with one brain cell to rub against another?  (Did any of you actually use “distance = SQRT [(x2 - x1)^2 + (y2 - y1)^2] ?  OK, to be [...]

States with the Best Schools

States with the Best Schools

Once again a report has hit the newsstands proclaiming which states have the best education (and which have the worst).  I always vow not to read these articles, but then I succumb to that siren-song that says, “You will be enlightened if you will read this report!” And, as it turns out,  I’m not enlightened.  [...]

I Won!

I Won!

Contests are powerful.  Most of us love the thrill of competition.  Spelling bees, state football play-offs, running in a 5K, or building a business in an uncertain economy seems to keep our blood flowing!  Even armchair quarterbacks can compete, vicariously living out a game in the persona of a loyal fan.  My father was a [...]

Columbus Day

Columbus Day

I was taught in elementary school that Christopher Columbus discovered America, proving in the process that the world was round.  Both teachings are false.  The truth of the matter is that more than 800 years before he sailed, mathematicians had proven the spherical (OK, ellipsoidal) shape of the globe.  He knew this.  And in terms [...]

Book Smarts

Book Smarts

I have important news for parents and students.  Pay very close attention!  Schools do not give awards for intelligence.  Because this is so very important to understand I’m going to rephrase.  No matter how high a child’s intelligence may be, no award is given by schools to recognize that fact.  While many schools may use [...]

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is Coming

One really cannot avoid the fact that the best known Christian holiday is right around the corner.  Many non-Christians play into the holiday with apparent joy, anti-Christians argue about public language concerning the season (and decorations on government property), and Wall Street anticipates the results of retailers.  Christians of a liturgical tradition (like me) become [...]

Thanksgiving in America

Thanksgiving in America

This is the month of Thanksgiving, often called gratitude month, when columnists never fail to comment on the theme.  I will not disappoint.  Let’s start with some history. We celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November.  We have done this nationally and officially only since 1941, although individual states had their own dates since the [...]

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