Here's the latest from our District's efforts to re-invent school for the future:
I'm bursting with pride! Mercer Island School District's Superintendent, Dr. Gary Plano, and Education Association President, Mike Radow, wrote this terrific article about our District's 2020 Vision, our strategic blueprint to prepare our students for the 21st Century. In the current test-centric environment, Mercer Island could have easily coasted along, satisfied with its routinely high scores. Instead, we've come together as a community to create schools for the future - today!
Check out the article here: Download MI2020Vision
Some of you know I'm on the Board of Directors for the Mercer Island School District. For the past couple of years, our District's been guided by our 2020 Vision: Our students will thrive in the cognitive, digital, and global world while sustaining their passion and inspiration for learning. I'm really excited about this direction and all the inspiring teaching and learning that's going on in our District as a result.
For me personally, it means I am constantly on the lookout for books, articles, conversations, expert resources and blogs to expand and shift my thinking about teaching, learning and school to prepare our kids for their futures.
Here's a new blog - Re-educate - that I'm supporting and following. Re-educate's goal is to create a community of people who are inspired to share ideas for changing the way we think about school. The blog's primary author is Steve Miranda, who recently left the most academically successful high school in the Seattle School District to work at a small school that approaches education from a uniquely 21st century perspective. Steve's a great writer and his reflections on the divergent school environments he's inhabited makes me think!
I am so excited about this discovery that it has jolted me out of my blogging hiatus. Turns out I've discovered a number of must-share resources recently so look forward to at least a few more posts before I get swept away with my life again!
It's a particularly great resource for high school and college students, meandering young adults in their twenties, and their worried parents!
We've heard this question hundreds of times from parents, teachers,
principals, friends, relatives, career counselors, even the mailman.
Not only do they ask that pestering question, but they provide their
"You should be a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant, a teacher. Go to grad school, go to med school. Get your MBA. Go into finance. Investments! Investments are where it's at!" All these might be good ideas, but they weren't ours.
We call all those misguided opinions "the noise." It's the noise of
society trying to push, pull, and tug us "tug you" in every direction.
The noise never listens to what you like and what you don't. The noise
doesn't care about what you value. The noise just distracts you from
building a life that's in tune with what you're passionate about as an
The noise says, "You can't make money playing with model spaceships." Dennis Muren didn't listen to it. Now he has eight Academy Awards for visual effects, including one for Star Wars.
The noise says, "There's no future dressing up your friends." Arianne Phillips didn't listen to it. She became the head stylist for Madonna and costume designer on films such as Walk the Line.
You can create roads that you'll be passionate about while also making a living. You don't have to be a prisoner to a job you can't stand. You have the potential to embark on a life that you can one day look back on and say, "I was true to myself every step of the way.""
Roadtrip Nation is about finding your own road by learning from others who have found their own inspired path in life. There are video interviews with hundreds of people who are doing what they love including the following: astrobiologist, founder of The Blue Man Group, Editor in Chief with Seventeen Magazine, chocolatier, track and field coach, and a plastic surgeon. Warning - these videos are addictive!!
You can find many other resouces via the website, including a guide to conducting your own interviews with passionate people, DVDs and books. I ordered both Roadtrip Nation books: Finding The Open Road: A Guide to Self-Production Rather Than Mass Production and Roadtrip Nation: A Guide to Discovering Your Path in Life.
Your kids can also apply to Hit the Road on the 2011 Roadtrip Nation trip.
Finally, Roadtrip Nation will be visiting colleges this fall in the iconic green RV. See if your student's college is on the route!
Wondering why it's important for kids to figure out what they love, besides being a feel-good idea?
The world has changed. Globalization makes the world more competitive. You have a much better chance at being great at what you do (and, therefore, more competitive) if you actually love what you're doing. In a recent interview, author Dan Pink was asked the following question:
if you were going to give somebody just one piece of advice about how to be successful in this new age, what would it be?
Dan Pink: " The best career move is to find what you love to do, what you’re great at, and pursue that. I think you will be more valuable in the workforce. If you love accounting and you’re great at it, you’re going to be okay.
I worry about the folks who pursue careers because their parents, teachers, or spouses give them outdated advice and they’re dutifully marching into careers they don’t really care about because they think it’s the way to make money. Not only is that bad for their individual self-actualization but I think it’s a bad career move, too."
"The counsel to do what you love is actually very hardheaded advice right now. It’s not just an idealistic notion. I think it’s the best way to get ahead today."
I'm guiding my teenage son through a great on-line course this summer. It's called Consumer Jungle and its purpose is to teach kids some of the skills they will need to successfully navigate the real world. So far, we've looked at various housing options (apartment, room in a house, rental house, with roommates and without) on Craig's List and SeattleRental.com and he's listed the advantages and disadvantages of each. He's read a rental lease and deciphered it by recasting in his own language. Yesterday, we viewed a powerpoint on Budgets and then he took an on-line quiz. Next up is a powerpoint on Credit. The website is www.consumerjungle.net. It's perfect for high school (or even college) age kids. I've learned a thing or too myself!
with Annie Leonard
Annie Leonard "spend(s) a lot of time thinking about stuff: where it comes from, where it goes, why it is designed the way it is and stuff like that." She is so fired up about this topic that she made a 20 minute movie The Story of Stuff to share what she's learned with the rest of us.
After I viewed the movie, I sent it to my 13-year old daughter and her friends.
To quote Leonard, "It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever."
Given that a company called Simply Self Storage is the #1 fastest growing business in America, according to Entreprenuer Magazine, proving that we have WAY TOO MUCH stuff . . . that's a very good thing.
There are some really creative people out there! One of them is Garr Reynolds, who is the author of both a book called Presentation Zen (I'm buying it today!) and a blog by the same name. To see his ideas in action, check out Garr's presentation summarizing the six key lessons in Johnny Bunko by clicking on this link: Johnny Bunko Presentation
There is life beyond Powerpoint and it looks like it's a lot more fun!
by Dulcie Leimbach
From last Sunday's (4/20/08) New York Times' Education Life, a must-read article for all parents of teens - click here: My Son the Number Some hard-won wisdom from a mom reflecting back on the college process.
By Daniel H. Pink (author of my favorite book of 2007, A Whole New Mind)
Watch the trailer for this book (yes, just like a movie) and then go buy The Adventures of Johnny Bunko for every high schooler, college student, or 20-something you care about - and yourself if you're curious about how to thrive in the new economy (that's the economy and world Dan describes in A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future. More on that later.)
By the way, this book will take you between 30 minutes and 1 hour to read because it is the first US business book ever to be told in manga - you know, the Japanese comic art form. In other words, it's a comic book, full of not only spot-on wisdom and advice but wonderful characters and illustrations drawn by the talented Rob Ten Pas.
This is the PERFECT high school or college graduation gift. Besides giving your sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, and family friends a great toolkit to use to craft their future, you will be regarded as momentarily cool and with-it, just for knowing about such a hip book. And those of us who are parenting teens know - that's priceless!
NOTE to Bookworm by Email subscribers. I reformatted this post so that all of Ms. Jone's notes are available here, without downloading a Word document. Hope that makes reading a bit easier! If you want to become a Bookworm by Email subscriber, see the box on the upper left. You will get an email every time there is a new Bookworm post. janet
Now to the topic!
Thanks to friend and colleague Judy Chase who went to hear Marilee Jones, MIT Admissions Director, speak at Overlake School on November 14th. Ms. Jones is also the author of Less Stress, More Success: A new approach to guiding your teen through college admissions and beyond.
The following are Judy's personal notes:
"I was a few minutes late, so the notes start from when I arrived. It is amazing to me how many themes she spoke of that echo Alexandra Robbins perspectives.
She began talking about characteristics from different generations and what that means in terms of the lens that we look at when considering situations.
Matures: Born prior to 1945. Honor, integrity, hard work ethic, many first generations who made a way for themselves, loyal and patriotic.
Baby Boomers: Born after WWII until 1964. Idealistic and Individualistic. We live vicariously through our children. We want to protect our kids and take care of them. We think our kids think and are like us when they are not. We are self centered and oriented around “us”.
Generation X: This is a very small subset of the population. Born between 1965-1978. They grew up when times were recessionary; AIDs became rampant, high divorce rates and left home alone a lot. They are pragmatic, comfortable on the internet, diversity and entrepreneurial. They don’t like fuss; want to get their work done so they can play. Quality of life is most important. Gen Xer’s are great out of the box thinkers, value diversity and very resilient.
post 1979. Influenced by Columbine,
9/11, WTC. She describes them as neotraditional, ritual, optimistic,
technological, adept, heavy volunteerism, very busy lifestyles, and
multicultural, busy 24/7. These kids are
group centered (having more likely been in daycare) they lead or follow, highly
structured, over scrutinized, can’t breath, very hardworking. They like to make adults (baby boomers) happy
and do a lot of their activities to “please” the adults. She says that the group is very anxious,
sleep deprived, judged and tested (and tested and tested), poorly nourished
(eat on the run). They sustain academic pressure, social pressure, carrying the
family honor. She calls them “Human
Doings vs. Human Beings”.
Today’s kids are Millennials.
Here are some of the general characteristics of Millennials. Our kids are social at night, via IM, text messaging. They can’t sleep before 11:30pm and often go to sleep even later. We hold them up to community inspection by “honoring high achievers in the paper, and at school”. Because of high parental involvement, they are over criticized and often feel that their accomplishments are “not good enough”. They are angry at their parents for over pushing towards perfection. There is an epidemic impact on girls’ sense of self esteem and body image.
The kids’ hyper sports involvement has resulted in an increase in asthma and sports injuries. Stomach aches and headaches are more likely as well. These are all stress related illnesses.
Marilee stresses that the kids/parents should focus on THE MATCH with a particular college. This is how well they will fit with the college culture, activities, and academics. The best fit for the student is important. Parents and students should not try to change the student to fit a school but find the school that fits the student. Admissions officers want to know if you know WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU ARE GOOD AT.
Typical Problems Marilee Jones encounters:
Problem #1: We are raising a generation of kids who are trained to please adults, teachers, parents, coaches, admissions officers. These kids look to the outside for affirmation and do not look internally. This should be internal; they should be reading their inner voice. Who am I? What do I think?
Problem #2: Kids are great at working together on
projects but don’t seem to be as individually creative. They do not have downtime to get into their
imaginations. Where are the
Problem #3: The collective pressure makes kids break."