Archive for the education Category

Video: What do Teachers Really Make

Posted in education, Rants with tags , , , , on March 29, 2008 by len20

It’s hard not to admire passionate people.

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Lying Kids: Your Just Like Your Parents!

Posted in education, Parenting with tags , , , , , on February 16, 2008 by len20

Kids learn about sex, drugs, and rock and roll at school, but according to the New York Magazine article, “Learning to Lie,” they learn to lie from their parents.

The article points out that we teach our children to lie in the name of good manners. “Tell your Aunt that you love the hand-knit sweater she sent you for your birthday. Tell her that pea green, pink, and vomit yellow are your favorite colors and you can’t wait to wear it to school.”

They see us lie to a telemarketer on the phone, “I’m sorry Mr. Leonard died yesterday in a horrific logging accident, I’m just robbing his house.”

And they see us lie to smooth over awkward social situations, “Yes, your son was amazing in the 80’s punk adaptation of King Lear. He really nailed the Earl of Kent.”

But don’t worry, you want your kids to lie. It’s a sign of intelligence!

It starts very young. Indeed, bright kids—those who do better on other academic indicators—are able to start lying at 2 or 3. “Lying is related to intelligence,” explains Dr. Victoria Talwar, an assistant professor at Montreal’s McGill University and a leading expert on children’s lying behavior.

Although we think of truthfulness as a young child’s paramount virtue, it turns out that lying is the more advanced skill. A child who is going to lie must recognize the truth, intellectually conceive of an alternate reality, and be able to convincingly sell that new reality to someone else. Therefore, lying demands both advanced cognitive development and social skills that honesty simply doesn’t require. “It’s a developmental milestone,” Talwar has concluded.

As odd as it sounds, the article makes some good points about how to deal with lying. First, accept the fact that most kids lie for various reasons. According to the article, 98%. But then think about how to react to this. Freaking out and threatening to kill them or send them to the Maury Povich Show is not the best response. In fact, escalating punishment may just improve the kid’s lying skills.

Increasing the threat of punishment for lying only makes children hyperaware of the potential personal cost. It distracts children from learning how their lies affect others. In studies, scholars find that kids who live in threat of consistent punishment don’t lie less. Instead, they become better liars, at an earlier age—learning to get caught less often.

The article goes on to talk about teenagers and the trends that carry over into young adulthood. Check it out, it’s worth the read.

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Teachers Who Love Kids

Posted in education with tags , , , on February 9, 2008 by len20

Teachers who love kids more than their own agenda are the best kind of teachers. My kindergarten teacher friend is a great example of someone who takes educating her students very seriously, but not so seriously that she forgets why she loves it so much.

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Frontline Documentary: Growing Up Online

Posted in Current events, education, family, Media, Parenting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 24, 2008 by len20

If you missed the PBS Frontline documentary “Growing Up Online,” you can watch the entire show on the Frontline website. I think it was very well done.

The reaction to the documentary ranges from accusing the producers of creating another alarmist piece of journalism about the internet age, to complimenting them for embracing the reality that the internet and all that is scary about it is here to stay, and parents and educators need to figure out how to live in that world alongside their kids.

They do a good job of segmenting the various issues of teenagers and the internet:

  • Educating the internet generation
  • Online sexual predators
  • Kids spending too much time online
  • Internet anonymity: trying on new identities
  • Cyberbullying – A very interesting look at a new arena for abuse

“Growing Up Online” argues that the gap between generations (parents and their teenage children) has never been wider. This probably scared me more than anything else. The show features a white suburban family who, by all appearances, have everything going for them. But the relationship between the mother and her teenage son has been strained to a near breaking point. It’s a classic struggle between the parent who wants to protect her kid, and the kid who feels that he’s old enough to have a part of his life be completely private from his parents. After an incident where the mother (head of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization) sends an email to other parents regarding the happenings at a rock concert, the son cuts off all possible interaction (within his control) with his family.

This would kill me. I want to have a relationship with my daughter even when she’s a teenager. I don’t want to have to wait out those years until she grows out of a stage and realizes that I set certain boundaries because I loved her and wanted to protect her.

One of the best things that my mother ever did for me when I was in high school was to tell me (more than once) that if I was ever in a place or a situation that I wanted out of, I could call her; she would come and get me with no questions asked. I didn’t have to tell her a thing. She just wanted to help me get out of there.

Parenting scares me. This documentary points to evidence that it’s not getting any easier from one generation to the next.

The Frontline website has a number of resources, an ongoing discussion, and more information than one can possibly take in.

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War Dance: Why We Cannot Underestimate Music Education

Posted in Africa, education, Movies, Music, Orphan Care, Third World with tags , , , , , on November 17, 2007 by len20

Music programs in public schools continue to be squeezed out of the curriculum as school administrators and school boards bend under the weight of mounting pressure to improve (arbitrary, in my humble opinion) test scores. I don’t deny the importance of teaching kids to read, write, solve problems, and learn about the successes and mistakes of our past. But if the purpose of all of this is to improve test scores, then we’re climbing a ladder that’s leaning against the wrong wall. Our purpose should be to teach students to think, to overcome the obstacles in the way of accomplishing good things, and to see the humanity in themselves and others.

You can’t take a test to prove your humanity. But you can sing a song.

I haven’t seen this documentary yet, but the preview below shows how powerful music can be in the lives of children. Check it out.

Learn more at the War Dance blog and the official website.

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From music teacher to orphan advocate

Posted in all about me, education with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2007 by len20

I was a teacher not too long ago. I only taught for three years, but that doesn’t diminish my feeling that music teacher is atMe in Liberia the heart of my identity. I enjoyed being a teacher. I was – and still would be – good at it (depending on which former student you ask, of course).

I remember some of the relationships that I had with students, and I miss being an influence in their lives. When I left teaching to see what the rest of the world did from 7:00-4:30, I wasn’t sure I’d find a job or a career that would feel as important as teaching was to me. And I didn’t for about a year.

I went from writing freelance articles for the local newspaper to working in the customer service division of a giant computer software company run by a hermit who only showed his face on video-conferencing screens twice a year to update his minions on the health of the corporate machine. It was lovely. I was terrible at my job, and was fired before the end of my six month training program.

After this, God mercifully led me to ministry work. God’s Kids hired me as the Director of Marketing based on my experience in watching t.v. commercials and reading magazines with ads in them. It’s been the best job I could have possibly hoped for after leaving teaching. I’ve never been more excited about what I’m doing, or passionate about why I’m doing it.

Even though I don’t get to be an individual influence on the lives of the orphans that we work for around the world, I feel that I have some measure of influence as to the quality of life they live. So if anyone is reading this, you’ll have to pardon me when I start screaming about the state of the world’s most vulnerable children, especially orphaned children. I grew up with everything. They’re growing up with nothing, and I’m pretty sure that my life is no more worthy of entitlement than theirs.

Me in Burmese refugee campSo I’m determined to use whatever means God gives me to influence their lives for the good. If you’re reading this, I’m coming after you. I want your attention, I want your energy, I want your money and your influence, and I want your heart to be softened by the lives of broken kids.

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