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How can we help?

A tutor or teacher or parent speaking to a child: “Well what is it with fractions you’re having trouble with? Is it multiplying them? Simplifying them?” Blank stare. We've all been there. We put it up to kids being non-verbal. That they don’t possess the vocabulary to accurately explain themselves. Setting aside that as a part of class we almost always teach the vocabulary needed to explain, it’s not necessary to even have specific vocabulary to explain most things. A child may not know the word luminescent, but they can explain what glow in the dark is and what it is like to experience it. You’ve shown your father how to send a photo in a text message many times. When you stop by to visit

lies, damned lies, statistics, test scores and achievement

The lies we tell. We tell a child to read a book because they’ll enjoy it, but inside our aim is to increase vocabulary, or prepare them for a benchmark assessment. You can only be told one thing by a person who means another, even if their intentions are pure, for so long before you begin to tune them out. Can’t I want children to read both for enjoyment and because it’s good for them? Of course. But at some point you’ll be in a position to make a choice that will reveal the priority of your intentions. “Why do I have to take this test?” A. “Because it helps me see how much you are learning.” B. “Because I have to. It’s my job.” C. “You don’t. Go read and enjoy yourself.” “Every lie is

The things that are most real are not quantifiable

Imagine for a moment you were single, out on a date with a person you loved. It’s been somewhere near a year you’ve been dating and you ask: “How much do you love me?” “About 85%. Once I’m above 90% I intend to ask you to marry me.” Maybe you’re out with some friends celebrating the new home you just moved into. Thomas asks you: “Hey why didn’t you call me? I would’ve helped you move in!” “Well, in the past you tend to drop things like 2 out of every 12 times we’ve hung out. We needed trust nearer to 100% to be sure.” Love, trust, friendship: The most real things we experience are not quantifiable. Photo via Brian Huskie, @OutlawAcademy on Twitter “Jamal kissed held my hand on our first d

What do you wonder about?

Every SOLE Hour session begins with the above question, and, especially with the initial sessions in new places, you being to notice something about enthusiastic curious children: They really really REALLY try to wonder about things when presented with that question. You also notice that nothing much comes from all of that effort. Wonder seems to be something that we do like breathing or speaking. When those big, important, weird questions come to you, you’re not consciously wondering. You are likely just in a state where you are open to them. Sometimes we let them in while in the shower. Or they’re there with us when we wake up at 2:43 a.m. Some great things have come from wondering. Einst

We're gonna science the ______ out of this

“I want to be a scientist when I grow up.” “What are you going to study?” “Everything.” Don’t you love that answer? Isn’t it everything that we find both so endearing and amazing about children? Why we got to talking about being scientists I don’t know. Maybe it was because we were trying to figure out why flowers have petals and Spring was warm in the air. Or maybe it was because so much of what we found was so sciency. The diagrams, the explanations, videos and reading...this very quickly turned into important work at Wanaque Public Library. Sometimes we lose sight of what natural scientists children really are. There are behaviors that we all associate with scientists. Our schools have ou

Focus

So many kids are scarred by the time they reach adulthood. Kids that are all kinds of different, too smart, too dumb, gay, trans, weird tastes, too loud, too quiet, and so on… We tell them the same thing, “it won’t always be like this,” and we mean it and we know it’s true because of how much our lives are different than they were when we were in school. We discover this when we find there’s a whole world out there beyond the realm of school. But for some reason we still insist on doing what we can to keep these children’s worlds limited within school. We tell them to focus--to narrow one’s view rather than see the great big world that is out there. Algebra is more important than finding a p

Click here for videos of animals playing

This post originally started like this: When is the last time you… ...went out in the cold in short sleeves ...drank from a hose ...made a prank phone call ...rode a bike without fitness in mind ...climbed anything besides stairs ...pretended ...counted only to know how many ...smelled the tree’s bark ...tasted something you knew was gross ...smelled something you knew was gross ...ran until you couldn’t breathe just because And it was going to go on in that vain. We adults do have a tendency to take the fun out of things in the name of being productive. But at what cost? Yes we live in a society where in order to survive, being productive in some way is a must unless you want to go live in

Dear Parents of non-school aged children,

Dear Parents of non-school aged children, Please make a point to remember what your children are like now. All they’ve learned without instruction, structure, rigor and standards. How much they’ve benefited by being around brothers and sisters, aunts uncles cousins friends of varying ages and experience. Look at them and how smart they are! How they are able to puzzle through obstacles when they learned to walk and speak. How they know to ask for help when they need it. How happy they are and how rarely they have a sad day. How massively curious they are with all of the questions! How brave they are. Unafraid to do things that scare the life out of you in worry. How much fun they are

No solutions here

Sometimes it seems like everyone is laying claim to having the answer to every problem today. Scary germs? Our soap will kill them. Medical problem? Tell your doctor to give you our pill. Not having enough fun? Buy some of our beer. Feeling unfulfilled? Test drive our car. And so it often goes in schools. Worried about your child’s safety? We’ve got a research-proven anti-bullying curriculum for you and it’ll only cost you one thin dime! (and a second payment of $49,999.90 plus training fees) Worried about your child’s future? We’ve got an army of superheroes at our disposal, molding the children, creating their very futures. Worried your child isn’t getting what other children are? Well now