On Learning, Challenging and Supporting our Children

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Imagine this: In just a few years, your child has graduated and gone to university. After a few weeks, you get a phone call, and your child tells you that this university is hard, so hard, with difficult assignments and a huge reading list… and that their roommate does not know how to clean up, and that it is really difficult to see a Professor…

I got that phone call just a few years ago. I remember when my daughter called after about three weeks of university. The courses were very challenging at McGill. The workload was horrendous. Her roommate had grown up doing nothing,  with her parents (and a maid) who did everything – laundry, cooking, cleaning. My daughter could not even get in to see her teachers, due to their large student load. Feeling a bit helpless, I asked her what she wanted me to do… Read the rest of this entry »

On Risk, Playgrounds and Growing Up to be Capable

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Imagine: An adult is hit by a soccer ball on a playground, and unfortunately suffers a concussion. What would you do, if you administered a school? An administrator in a public school in Toronto faced this issue recently, and so banned the use of inflated balls in the schoolyard.

In some schools, games of tag and other chase and elimination games have been banned, following particular complaints of injury or the bruising of self-esteem. Read the rest of this entry »

Report Cards: Politics, Education and the Rhetoric of Caring

In this Morning’s Vancouver Sun, there was an Op-Ed by Geoff Johnson, a retired public school Superintendent, entitled, “Make report cards relics of the past”. Mr. Johnson suggests that “All the fuss about report cards and the importance of letter grades supported by vague generic comments is a fuss about the wrong thing. As public education moves toward 21st-century individualized learning, the systems of reporting progress will need to move with it and the traditional report card will become a quaint relic of the previous century.” Read the rest of this entry »