Monday, July 2, 2012

An Exciting Development!

A mom in New Jersey sends this letter. LOVE IT My boys (I have five) had some strong opinions related to the quality of “boy books”. I ordered The Trouble with Boys and loved it. The boys decided to approach their school librarian who was very open to their opinions and supportive of their ideas. The boys spent 2 days pulling every “boy friendly” book from the (NAME OF SCHOOL) library shelves. Labels were then ordered that would help male students and teachers easily identify good “guy” books. A day was spent labeling the books and developing a master list that teachers, parents and boys can easily access to find engaging books. We hope to develop a book club for boys at (name of school) that would pair a strong 8th grade male reader with a boy or group of boys who are struggling to discover the joy found in a good read. The book also made me stop turning my nose up at the “Captain Underpants” books my younger boys were always dying to read!

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Boys and Guns

Here's a columnist writing about the mostly widely misunderstood part of boys play -- guns. She writes.
When I was a younger, first-time new mom, I had planned on being rabid about the way we treated the subject in our home. I vowed to raise our son to think that even saying the word ‘gun’ was bad, and swore we’d never have guns as toys. Heaven-forbid he ever formed a gun with his finger and his thumb, it wasn’t something we’d ever allow him to do twice!

And then I wised up. Correction, I read the book The Trouble with Boys after attending an amazing lecture by the book’s author, reporter Peg Tyre, and then I wised up. Among so many worthy topics on the subject of gender and school, Tyre writes about the kind of play kids (especially boys) use to work out their ideas about social justice, good vs. evil, and right from wrong. And she examines how educators can overreact to kids who talk about it while at school without first determining whether there are more serious issues at hand.

Her writing helped me work out some more nuanced ways about talking about guns with my children, about understanding what pretend gun play was, and about how I could talk to them at different developmental ages about what real guns do when in the hands of the wrong people.

Nice! Right?

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Monday, November 28, 2011

College financial aid: "a war between the haves and the have-a-lots."

So, more middle class families get financial aid for college. All good, right? Except, this means that fewer and fewer poor kids get to go to college. And that's not good.


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a great letter from a reader of TGS

I just finished reading The Good School in one sitting and I have to say that you wrote the book I wanted to write. I am a high school English teacher (15 years)...I've recently become very alarmed at where our schools are headed. The thing is this: most "middle class" parents aren't even aware of how bad the situation is and could be. I, myself, was astounded .. that so little of what we do as teachers has real scientific basis. Why? We have the science as you've shown, but districts are far more interested in bringing in educational speakers for pep talks than giving real science. In my school, too, there are so many teachers who are content to teach the same year every year with worksheets galore. And while I teach HS English, I knew instinctively that my second grader was missing something (real phonics instruction) in his "balanced literacy" curriculum. Yet, when I once sent the Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum information on Open Court because they were giving free materials, she responded curtly, "We don't do Open Court" as if I'd suggested she eat a frog or something.

There is a definite connection from mediocre schools to America's decline and high unemployment. I recently traveled to India on a two week teaching exchange and we should be very afraid. Indian students were so well prepared and eager to learn. Yet, I feel we could really take advantage of America's strengths in our diversity and creativity. If only parents knew how mediocre their schools really are. We hear a ton about the lowest performing schools and we all know that rich districts have their first graders learning Mandarin. It is the middle class schools that need attention, yet parents need a wake-up call to realize this and do something about it.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Freakonomics Loves The Good School!

Here we are, talking about The Good School on the popular blog Freakonomics

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