Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Anyone? Anyone?"

Is teaching a performance art?

That question is at the heart of NPR's education story, "Channeling Springsteen: teachers as performers," that aired Monday.

Check out the You Tube clip of Ben Stein droning on in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. or his polar opposite, Robin Williams in Dead Poets' Society.

But is teaching really performing? 

"Maybe not, says Bruce Lenthall, who runs the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Pennsylvania.  He has seen some teachers bristly at the idea that successful teachers have to also be performers...Lenthall says teachers tell him, 'I'm here to convey my ideas, I don't need to get into this stuff that seems ephemeral.'"

Teaching is not entertainment, though it certainly helps to have some performance skills in your pocket.  What's more important is that students know that you know them, that you care for them, and want the very best for them.

And I'm not here to 'convey my ideas' either.  I am here to help students find their own inner voice, to discover their interests, to develop their talents, and to learn the basic skills required to pursue them.

Is that all?

No, but it's a good start.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Parents, calm down

A recent post on the blog Rox and Roll: the Cacaphony of Motherhood has stirred up a bit of controversy:  "Parents: Let Harvard Go." 

Rox's post was precipitated by several teen suicides close to home and a You Tube video posted by one of her neighbors, sixteen year old Martha Cabot, who attends Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California.

Is Rox encouraging the acceptance of mediocrity?  No, as a former admission officer at an Ivy League school, and another "Ivy equivalent" on the West Coast, she has an insider's view of the college admission process and she considers life in the college admission pressure cooker a public health issue.

Read on, parents.