Thursday, August 7, 2008

Firey Teaching

Okay, I should NOT be responding because I really need to pack for our trip, BUT I'm so tired of cleaning, packing, and organizing I really just want to respond to this email. I may give stuff away from the 2nd half of the book, Ans, but I must. AND, I have to say Kelly is the first to recommend it to me, so she gets to comment as well!

Using Trust rather than Fear
"Never use fear as a shortcut for education." p 6
I thought the same thing as you with my own children and how they have learned to "fear" me more than to "trust" me (in some areas of their lives - - i.e. cleaning their bedrooms - - okay, so, maybe fear doesn't work there either! hee-hee)

Quote from Measure for Measure, Shakespeare:
"Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt."

Moral Levels of Development
LOVED this as well. And if you read Ron Clark's 55 Rules, it adds upon this whole concept of raising strong, intelligent, independent and confident children.

Why do we settle? I would agree that there aren't necessarily "bad" teachers out there, but there are many who settle for mediocrity. Who want to make it easier for themselves and their students. BUT can you blame them? After seeing the HOURS Esquith put into his teaching I realized why more teachers are not like him.

You mentioned, also how the teachers would step in to fix the problems of their students. Parents do this ALL THE TIME!! The kids come to them with any problem, big or small, and the parents give an answer: "You should...." "Go do...." Instead, we need to help our kids become problem solvers, thinkers! When my kids have come to me with problems (sometimes in hysterics), I've started to ask them a question, "What are our solutions." I remember Brooklynn freaking out about a lost something and I asked the question. She said, "There are no solutions!" (enter: the tears!) I just stayed calm (one trait I constantly need to work on when my girls go into needless hysterics) and said, "Well, go think about it and come back with a list of solutions." Well, she stomped out of the room (still crying) only to come back a few more minutes with the "something" found. I just think it's so easy to tell our kids how to behave, how to feel, how to think - - and then we get frsutrated as they get older and don't know how to make wise decisions. Duh! (read pp 147-148: How to solve a problem)

p. 141 "To help young people become remarkable, we need to challenge them with lessons theywill use for the rest of their lives."

This is so key, I agree. And it's something I've not been so strong at teaching. Writing came so easily for me, I don't even remember learning how, I just alwasy seemed to KNOW. Therefore, I just assumed my kids would know how to write. Ha! We've worked on it and come a long way, but this year we are mostly focussing on writing. EVERYTHING will involve writing (especially for John). I am so excited about it!

Esquith also made me realize that TV/Movies are actually good learning tools if used properly! (maybe you haven't gotten there yet, Ans). . . Before reading his book I would use "educational movies" as babysitters for my kids. They were still learning, right?! Well, let me just tell you how my whole perspective has changed and we are watching some really sweet movies! I've never seen a Shirley Temple movie until last night. It was great and the kids loved it. Anyway, I put Esquith's idea to a challenge. John wanted to watch Fetch with Ruff Ruffman (PBS kids show). Well, I told him he could only watch it if he wrote 5 sentences afterwards telling me what he had learned. He watched it and then couldn't come up wiht 5 sentences. I told him he still needed to do it. Well, he let it rest. Then, the next morning he woke up and said, "Mom, can I watch Fw/RR again and finish my sentences?' Well, he did and he wrote some great sentences. We sat down with the sentences and did all the correcting then and there - - grammar, spelling, penmanship! Then, he had to rewrite it with the corrections and in his best handwriting. John LOVED it! He didn't fight me on it one bit because I had taken one of his passions and turned it into a learning experience. LOVE writing!!

Standardized Testing
"Despite the fact taht standardized testing was conceived to help our children, in practice it has only contributed to their failure." p 75

"We adults must work hard to help the kids navigate the ridiculous hoops through which they are asked to jump." p 80

"In an era wehn 'You are your test score' has become accepted . . . we adults must work hard to make sure kids know that their test scores are actually a very small part of who they are." p 83

p. 174 "I believe that many of today's . . . schools are making a . . . significant mistake in how thye think about college. They place so much emphasis on getting into college that they lose sight of the larger issue of finishing college."

Andrea - explain this more to me (because I'm a critic) -- what is up with these tests? Washington's is HORRIBLE. AND, why are the teachers so limited on their cirriculum choices. I know, its' better to have a guideline, but does it need to be so set in stone and according to what administrators think? How do parents change this, or can they? I know there's a cirriculum board & all. Anyway, this is just one part of the book that frustrated me about the public school system (though I'm generally NOT anti-public school nor am I critical of the teachers themselves - - just to clarify!).

Final Note
p. 108 "Teachers and parents must remember that our children should be the performers, even if they are not perfect. That's the beauty of art - - we strive for perfection but never reach it. The journey is everything."

Enough Said!


P.S. I won't comment on Young Fu until I get back from Utah. I read it awhile back, but may need to refresh. LOL

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