Seven - The Magic Age

Uncategorized Sep 01, 2020

"It lies within us as adults either to turn newborns into monsters by the way we treat them or to let them grow up into feeling - and therefore responsible - human beings."
- Alice Miller in Prisoners of Childhood

In Nordic mythology Frey, the son of the god of the sea Njord, is a very famous god.  Frey was given a present when he got his first new tooth at about seven years of age.  The dwarfs built him Skilbladner, a ship so big it could carry all the gods and so small that it could be folded and put into Frey's pocket.  This ship is symbolic of the power of words and knowledge.  By the time children are seven they have a huge amount of knowledge about life and living.  

The Norse believed that children are still playing in the water until they are seven.  By then they have developed to a place where they can begin to work with words, to play with concepts, and put them together to understand things.  They believed that letters are nothing in...

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Reading Readiness that Works

Uncategorized Aug 04, 2020

We can only think with the words that we know. We learn through using the words we have meaning for to form ideas in our self-talk. Successful reading and writing depends on sophisticated internal talk and visualization. Infants and young children who are not engaged in dialogue that builds conceptual understanding and vocabulary are unable to read until this deficit is overcome. They may be able to figure out the words but if they can’t use them to make sense, they aren’t reading.

There may well be a critical time in the innocence of childhood when the subconscious becomes aware of the magic of reading to access worlds of experience. This may explain why children who have been read to from the beginning often learn to read without any formal instruction. Someone else has ‘made sense’ for them until they could do it for themselves.

The best preparation for reading is to develop imaginative self-talk. The whole personality is involved in reading. Heavy...

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Reading Failure Punishment

Uncategorized Apr 28, 2019

Punishment for reading failure is never justified! Period!

When students fall behind, some teachers put pressure on parents to do more work at home to raise their reading scores even though they are not trained to do so.  Failure to learn to read well is usually blamed on a weakness in the child rather than on weaknesses in the way learning to read has been handled by others in the child’s life.  Parents may blame the child for not trying and cut back on privileges or drill them until they hate reading.  This is a huge mistake.

Failure can set a self-fulfilling prophecy in motion.  Children feel helpless and depend on someone else to ‘rescue’ them.  They begin to prefer easier tasks and are less interested in reading.  Learning to read requires risk taking and belief in the possibility of success.  Not only that, but failure leads to an expectation of future failure.

Promising rewards for reading can be especially damaging. ...

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The Music Class: Contributions to Learning

Uncategorized Jul 21, 2018

This is a story by Stephen Covey that I found some time ago.  It is an extract from The 3rd Alternative: Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems.  It totally fits with the spirit of The Story Circle Model of Education that I am taking into the world.  Music is one of the pillars of the model and this shows how powerful music can be to help teach every subject in the classroom including Mathematics.

You can read more about my thoughts on Music and Learning in my recent online article in Medium.

THE MUSIC CLASS,  by Stephen Covey

A women we’ll call Nadia could see that her little daughter was crying as she came out of the school carrying her violin case. The eight year old sobbed to her mother that her teacher would not allow any more music in class. All that night Nadia, a trained violinist herself, became more and more angry – she couldn’t sleep thinking about the disappointment on her daughter’s face – and carefully planned a...

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Writing Is It’s Own Reward

Uncategorized Jul 07, 2018

We always say how critical it is to read with your children if you want them to be readers.  It is just as important to write with your children if you want them to be capable writers who enjoy writing.

I was tutoring Dustin, a 10-year-old boy, in reading.  His mother would give him treats after the lesson as a reward for paying attention.  One day I talked to Dustin and his mother.  “Reading is its own reward,” I said. “When you are able to read Where the Red Fern Grows by yourself, Dustin, you will be so happy.  I don’t want you to get any more treats for reading.”  At Christmas he gave me a box of chocolates (with a few chocolates missing) accompanied by a handwritten note:

To Mrs. Goodman, Reading is its own reward. Dustin.

Writing is its own reward too.  Something about writing connects us more intimately with our subjects.  When we begin to look closely at scenes, people, or objects, they take on a new...

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How to Kill the Love of Reading in One Simple Step

Uncategorized Jun 29, 2018

After reading my book Simply Too Much Homework, Lisa wrote the following Letter to the Editor of her local paper. She was angry that she had to spend her evenings accommodating homework rather than spending time with her children after a stressful day at work.

“Required reading every night has destroyed Becky’s natural affection for reading and now she rarely picks up books voluntarily. I can’t think of anything valuable coming from the never-ending homework/reading drill. School has no right to force my family to do anything while we’re home. Homework is not a part of my job as a parent. We can do next to nothing together as a family during the week.”

Reading progress is impeded when we make reading a burden by insisting that parents spend 20 minutes a day practicing with their child. When there is more than one child this is often impossible because it is in addition to the homework assignments.

A passage from a book, How to increase Reading Ability,...

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Happy, Healthy Children and Self-Talk

Uncategorized Jun 18, 2018

Self-talk is the way we make sense of the world. An old journal from 1987 has an interesting entry about my own self-talk.

My passion for researching ways to improve learning for students often leads me to talk too much about my ideas. Times of depression have also haunted me although they aren’t as frequent now that I have found my path of service. Why was I writing in my journal in the parking lot of a hospital? It was obviously one of my depressing times. Here is what I wrote:

As I sit here in the hospital parking lot, people are scurrying to and fro as they carry on their business. I feel rejected. No one wants to listen to me and my ideas. Have I been difficult to get along with, self-opinionated, proud, haughty, over-bearing?

I guess my ideas are commonplace so why have I attached so much importance to them. Is it because I have to bolster my own image in my own eyes?

What has prompted me to speak with such self-confidence? Everyone must have been laughing, talking,...

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Are you an "A" or an "F"?

Uncategorized Apr 26, 2018

In the 21st century we are desperately in need of flexible, robust, creative thinkers who can solve the massive problems we face. Instead, we are forcing our young to spend their precious time in schools bound by a limited curriculum with a major focus on testing. This creates great obstacles to fostering uniqueness and critical thinking.

Human diversity is the fuel that runs the world. If we were all capable in the same areas it just wouldn’t work. For the best years of their lives our young are judged, labelled and categorized as A, B, C, D. or F.  In the process, individual talents and strengths are not valued as school strives to make everyone equal so they can pass the same tests.

No one is an ‘A’ or an ‘F’ in every aspect of life. Superiority is only in the narrow frame of reference which each test addresses. Everyone could find themselves in the top 20% if the testing was set in a context of their experience and talents.

Many people have...

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Fight, Flight, or.....

Uncategorized Mar 08, 2018

There are two ways to deal with stress, FIGHT or FLIGHT.  Students are committed to school, by law for about eleven years of their life with no opportunity for fight or flight.  When they can’t do either, they can lapse into a state of depression that results in failure, dropping out and even addictions and suicide.

The local pharmacist, in my middle class neighbourhood, told me that in the last year prescription drugs for depression had increased dramatically for children and adolescents.

The Kinark Child & Family Services in a nationwide survey, found that 7 out of 10 Canadian parents are concerned about the future well-being of their children.  49% of students are concerned about school problems and 34% fear disappointing their parents.  These are leading causes of depression, stress and anxiety.

It’s time that we consciously realized that our youth get only one chance to be young.  We must stop viewing school as preparation for life and...

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