Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Something Special Here

Check out this video created by four elementary-aged children.  Then read the project description from Post Oak mom Katie Orr -- Post Oak kids stand out.  They are creative: incredibly so.  But there is more: "To drive home the point, she grabbed my arm and said, 'Really, please listen. You need to understand that there is something special here and that you need to be very, very proud of your child and these children.'"   Read on:

Michelle asked that I answer your question regarding the video that our boys produced. Several Post Oak School boys (Joseph Orr, Andrew and Jonathan Lu and James Redding) participated in Aurora Picture Show's Filmmaking Boot Camp this summer.   (James collaborated on a different, equally amazing film.)  The week-long day camp is part of the education outreach ("Popcorn Kids Series") of the Aurora Picture Show, a Houston based non-profit that supports emerging filmmakers and artists in our area. Please see their website if you are interested:

The children were guided in their first-ever filmmaking endeavor by the organization's Media Arts Instructor, Camilo Gonzales, as well as  a high school art and media teacher from a nearby school district that was working with the organization through a grant (I can't remember her name.)  In addition, a couple of local filmmakers stopped by to offer some consultation during the process.    


It was a fantastic hands-on experience for the children, one that fit beautifully with their Montessori experience and the Montessori approach to learning.   In fact, when I was able to finally visit with the instructors at the end of the week (parents were not allowed to interrupt or corrupt the artistic process!) , the instructors were effusive in their compliments of the POS boys' work.  They were thrilled with the artistic outcome, but they seemed most impressed, almost shocked, at the group's strong vision for the film, and how well the group worked together to realize that vision.  They noted that they were worried that our boys' group contained a much younger girl that the boys had never met, and that this young girl might feel left out of the process;  however, again, they were amazed at how quickly the boys integrated her into the process and allowed her talents to shine among this group of friends.  To underscore their pleasure, the teacher pulled me aside again and reiterated that this was an amazing group of children and that this process and their product far exceeded their expectations.   To drive home the point, she grabbed my arm and said, "Really, please listen.  You need to understand that there is something special here and that you need to be very, very proud of your child and these children."   


I am answering your question in the long form, because this experience is not atypical of what I see every summer when Bob and I, and other POS families, send our children out into the world of special interest camps and activities in the summer.   I don't write you a note every summer as I easily could, but given your question, I can't ignore the fact that Post Oak helped guide these children in the process of making this film as much as the talented filmmakers and educators at Aurora.  I do believe our children are different and that there is something, actually everything, going on in the school year at POS that makes these children stand out when they go out into the world.  So, yes, the Orrs, the Lus and the Reddings are proud parents when we see our children's work and hear the compliments, but we think POS should be proud as well.


Thanks for allowing me to ramble a bit, 








Monday, September 10, 2012

Dark Matter

So I just posted the NY Times blog about cheating...in schools and out.  Quoting the author's daughter,  “TRUTH is a second-class citizen in the glittering world of WINNING.”

Almost at the same time, NPR interviewed Paul Tough (really!) for a story entitled, "Children Succeed with Character, not test scores."

Tough observes, "Right now we've got an education system that really doesn't pay attention to [noncognitive] skills at all. ... I think schools just aren't set up right now to try to develop things like grit, and perseverance and curiosity."

And since phenomena often occur in 3's, I heard a teaser about an upcoming radio feature that opens with the comment, "Our whole education system is built around the idea that if you are good at taking tests, that you'll be successful in life.  But how do you explain all those people who were good at taking tests, but are not so successful in life?  What is the 'dark matter' that leads to success?"

The dark matter that leads to success?  Personal characteristics like grit, perseverence, curiosity...and integrity.

How we teach students to cheat

From Motherlode:  adventures in parenting.

 “TRUTH is a second-class citizen in the glittering world of WINNING.”

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why is all this so important?

Thanks to Post Oak parent Vikas Mittal for the following story from the summer:
Very late in college--graduate school--I realized that to be successful I needed to be organized. Making lists, having an organizer and a calendar all became part of my functioning as a graduate student and now as a professor. My daughter, Sukul (now 12 years old), has always bugged me for a nice planner. Why would a kid want that? Well I see now. She is on summer vacation--every morning she gets ready, writes in her planner what she has to do, and how she is going to accomplish it. Sometimes, we nag her--"Have you done your Cello?" or "When will you ...". Her answer: "I have it on my planner, and it will be done -----." 

Sukul likes cooking, and Indian culture like many  eastern cultures is centered on food. Rather than just cook, she explores--she is a food entrepreneur. When she cooks breakfast for the family, it has unusual garnishes. She likes to make coffee for me, but will ask me to try different garnishes--chocolate, vanilla, and yes even herbs. Many of them have turned out to have great taste, tastes that I would never explore on my own. That she can take risks, and not worry if the outcome is not always positive shows she will not hesitate to be creative.

Why is all this so important? I am a professor of business, and have a biased view informed by my own experiences. In my own career, I've observed now over hundreds of business students--undergrads, MBAs, and phDs--graduate, and can monitor their success prospectively. Typically, the ones who are successful are NOT the ones who are unusually smart or have the highest grades. Yes, they are academically successful. But they have a high level of organizational skills, social skills, and entrepreneurship--no fearing new things and failure.  Coupled with academic success these qualities make for lasting and enduring success. I've seen met smart CEOs, VPs, company presidents --- all successful by virtue of skills that cannot be captured in "grades" or "test scores."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"a public storm erupted"

"Movies, violence, and a parent's responsibility."  In the absence of shared values, we cannot rely on movie ratings systems to insulate our children from gratuitous and sadistic violence in movies and on tv.  (As my good friend and colleague Larry Schaefer has said, "We live in a toxic culture.")  So we parents need to excercise both judgement and will in determining what is acceptable "entertainment" for our children.

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Our current version of success is a failure"

"How to raise a child" -- a review of Madeline Levine's book Teach Your Children Well.

And in case you're interested in the allusion from the title, check out this performance.