Category Archives: making a difference

Why kids need more music in schools

In his postlude to The Mozart Effect author Don Campbell shares miracle stories of treatment and cure through music.   Excerpts recount music and its role in the treatment and healing of abuse, pain, aggressive and antisocial behavior, attention deficit disorder, depression, developmental delays, high blood pressure, etc.  The benefits of music are limitless.

As the American educational system seeks to cut the arts from classroom experience, we see children and adolescents seek out more available forms of art – usually portraying the more violent and dark side of life.  Young people perceive, and then opt to imitate the art that fuels their imagination.

Education can offer a positive approach to fueling that imagination leading toward the productive lives we want our children to meet by providing a healthier experience.

There are those trying to do that.  Be sure to watch as CBS’s 48 HOURS presents The Whole Gritty City, Saturday, February 15th at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Some say society is ill and we need to do something to heal it.  Will we help? 

“Each illness has a musical solution.  The shorter and more complete the solution, the greater the musical talent of the physician.”

–  Novalis

Learning Disabilities – a second look

I’ve taught for many years in a system that I have often questioned when it comes to students and learning disabilities.  As an outside-of-the-box thinker, I’ve always hoped for more freedom in teaching to reduce the necessity for a child being labeled as learning disabled when I thought there might be a better way.

In my opinion, schools need to offer a more “balanced” curricula including both visual and performing arts as well as extended opportunity for inquiry and exploration. If offered, I believe we would have a much smaller ESE population.  Walk into any ESE class and you will find talented students in these areas.  If not, you’ll find students who lack focus because their minds are sparked with imagination and their personalities are bursting at the seams from the skill and drill activities they take part in.

Google search famous people with learning disabilities and you’ll find less than average students who had the tenacity and intrinsic abilities (not valued by education) to prove their teachers wrong.  I share a list and a YouTube presentation.  Both are inspiring and encouraging.

Famous people with learning disabilities:

ADD/ADHD

Will Smith, Jim Carey, Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Jordan, Bruce Jenner, Magic Johnson, Terry Bradshaw, Babe Ruth, Greg Louganis, Vince Lombardi, Pablo Picasso, Ansel Adams, Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leo Tolstoy, Robert Frost, and Edgar Allen Poe, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Malcolm Forbes, Andrew Carnegie, William Randolph Hearst, Henry Ford, FW Woolworth, Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, Alfred HitchcockHenry Ford, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, Wilbur Wright, Alexander Graham Bell, John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Cher, Buddy Rich, Beethoven, Mozart, Handel, President John F. Kennedy, President Thomas Jefferson, President Abraham Lincoln, President Dwight Eisenhower, President George Bush, and President George W. Bush, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Nicolai Tesla, Louis Pasteur, Galileo, and Sir Isaac Newton…

The list goes on.  What were some of them told and what did they share?

Sydney Smith said, “The real object of education is to give children resources that will endure as long as life endures; habits that time will ameliorate, not destroy; occupation that will render sickness tolerable, solitude pleasant, age venerable, life more dignified and useful, and death less terrible.”

Reading, writing, and math are all important but there has to be more if we are to help our students actualize the above realities.

If you’re still with me – thanks for reading and listening!!  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…

Take a creative break

nancy 2011-2012 K    I love to teach and  I’ll admit, new education trends find teaching tasks taking up most of my wakeful time.  A recent lengthy bout with pneumonia however, forced me to take time to rest.  It also found me taking up a creative passion from long ago – crocheting.  I found the break from “thinking” about teaching, expectations, and test scores refreshing and I believe it helped me heal quicker – both physically and mentally.

The link between creativity and mental and physical health has long been established.  How are you feeling these days?  Does your health or mental state need a lift?  As George Lois stated, “Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.”

Teacher work loads and stress seem less cumbersome when balanced with a creative activity.  What’s your creative passion?  Not sure what it is?  Listen to Sir Ken Robinson discuss “Finding Your Element”.

Are you finding time for your creative passion?  Remember – you have a life outside of work that only you can make fulfilling.   Find time for a creative break today!

What about the child?

In 1918, a special commission of the National Education Association presented a set of goals on the “purposes of school”.  The list included:

  • providing the child with a sense of ethics
  • teaching the child responsibility for his/her own health
  • teaching the child sensitivity toward the responsibilities of citizenship
  • mastery of the three “R’s”
  • teaching the child to use leisure time well
  • encouraging worthy human relationships with family and friends
  • teaching the child to make a living

We have come to teach a new generation of students and the goals these days seem to focus on teacher quality and offering great schools for students to learn in. While the Common Core Standards stress highest student achievement for all I have to wonder – wouldn’t the goals presented in 1918 be practical for our students today and if so – why are we not paying more attention to them?

Thoughts anyone?

Ken Robinson: How to escape education’s death valley

Is education a mechanical or human system?  How do we develop a culture where teachers and students thrive and excel?

Here is the latest from Sir Ken Robinson with a challenge for educators and administrators alike.

How can we improve early education?

My father was a self-employed painting contractor.  As a child I observed his love of work and determination to grow intellectually even though he left school after the eighth grade – in his day, an accepted thing to do.

dad - youth     Leaving school did not diminish his motivation to learn.  I can still see him sitting on the sofa with book in hand learning all he could about whatever piqued his interest.  Dad always told me, “The more you can do in life, the more independently successful you will be.”  Dad’s passing did not diminish my motivation to learn.  He modeled well the life skills needed to survive in a competitive work world.

I reflected on Dad’s lessons as I viewed the following video “How can we improve early education?”

Listen as D. Quinn Mills, Consultant; Past Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School and expert on the differences between Asian and Western leadership styles shares his views on how we can improve early education by instilling in children motivation to learn.

http://bigthink.com/videos/how-can-we-improve-early-education

Why teachers leave

Teachers enter teaching full of enthusiasm – knowing they have an opportunity to affect the lives of many over their time in the classroom.

Time and circumstance often wreak havoc on these idealistic goals.  The teacher in the following YouTube video (Ellie Rubenstein) eloquently expresses what teachers across the nation are feeling these days.  Her passion for teaching can’t be denied.  Ellie’s video has gone viral – she is enthusiastically supported by hundreds of thousands across the nation.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the state of public education today?  Do you share or not share Ellie’s views?  Why or why not?

Why teachers teach

!cid_3172757604_646320   I recently read an article written by a college student who is reconsidering her decision to become a teacher.  While her heart seems to be in teaching, those around her are persuading her to pursue a more prestigious, higher salaried career.  In other words – a “real profession” that is worthy of the cost of a college degree.

The question then arises – why do teachers teach?  It certainly can’t be for the salary.  Teachers are underpaid and overworked.  It can’t be for respect.  Teachers are often falsely charged as being the “problem” with education.  It can’t be for the prestigious working conditions.  Many teachers work in anything but.  Why then do we see teachers endure these conditions year after year not closing the door on education to pursue a more self-satisfying, lucrative career?  The answer must lie in the altruistic nature of teaching and the strong sense of duty most teachers cite as the reason for choosing a teaching career.

According to the National Education Association the average 2011-2012 starting teacher salary in the United States was $35,672.  Factoring into this salary the state of the economy, the increasing cost of shelter, utilities, food, insurance, and yes – taxes, this amount of money doesn’t support a lavish lifestyle or even a modest lifestyle.

Do teachers deserve more respect?  While teachers bear the brunt of accusations on what’s wrong with education, few outside of education stop to question why most teachers teach a specific way.  With the terms and conditions of No Child Left Behind came a landslide of do’s and don’ts over the years eliminating any autonomy a teacher may have in the classroom.

Working conditions?  Consider a career which pays on average for 37.5 hours of work, but commands on average 50-60 hours plus each week to get the job done.   Add to that career – purchasing books and materials out-of-pocket for students unable to afford them, classroom maintenance, professional development, teacher disrespect, constantly changing expectations, added demands, student behavioral concerns, etc., and answer this – would you teach?

While you may say “no” there are many teachers who would still say “yes.”  When I ask my college students why they chose education, the same answer is given every time – “I want to make a difference.”  Indeed, there are many teachers who have done just that.  This altruistic sense of service to others is best expressed with the story of David Menasche who does not consider his declining health but instead asks “Did I make a difference?”

David Menasche: Did I make a difference?

http://www.nea.org/home/2011-2012-average-starting-teacher-salary.html