It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.
Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.
Heroes. Humanity has always had heroes. While it’s doubtful that will ever change, what constitutes a hero has changed radically over the centuries. I wrote this post in 2009, as the trend of elevating the most inane individuals, and even the dregs of society, to hero/role model status. As the old saying goes, something’s got to give.
According to Drew Pinsky MD, AKA, Dr. Drew on radio and TV, and S. Mark Young, a social scientist it may be especially dangerous for young people, who view celebrities as role models.
“They are the sponges of our culture. Their values are now being set. Are they really the values we want our young people to be absorbing? … It harkens back to the question of how much are young people affected by models of social learning. Humans are the only animals who learn by watching other humans.”
18 year-old, 6-foot-5, 200-pound “Colton Harris-Moore is suspected in about 50 burglary cases since he slipped away from a halfway house in April 2008. Now, authorities say, he may have adopted a more dangerous hobby: stealing airplanes.”
I’m not surprised, in a world where serial killers have groupies and people fight for souvenirs of death-row inmates it figures that they’re going to romanticize someone who manages to not get caught.
But what makes me ill are his mother’s comments, “I hope to hell he stole those airplanes – I would be so proud,” Pam Kohler said, noting her son’s lack of training. “But put in there that I want him to wear a parachute next time.”
It’s tough enough to grow up these days; it’s tougher in a dysfunctional home or in areas that are gang-controlled, but what kid stands a chance with parents like this?
What can we do? Where can we find more positive role models that have the glamour that mesmerizes kids and grownups alike?
When will we glorify function instead of dysfunction? Meaning instead of money?
Rachel Weinstein, a psychotherapist, and Katie Brunelle, a former elementary school teacher and coach, responded by creating the Adulting School, a place for people to gain the skills they need to feel like an adult, from goal-setting and sheet-fitting to how to manage money or hang a picture.
Simon Senek, a British author and motivational speaker, also blames parents for the false expectations of so many Millennials, who never were given the chance to learn/live the process of achievement.
“Everything you want you can have instantaneously, except for job satisfaction and strength of relationships,” Senek argues. “There’s no app for that; they are slow, meandering, uncomfortable processes.”
Whatever you think about a school that teaches adults how to be adults the real question is: in what direction will the next generation go?
John Mighton, a Canadian playwright, author, and math tutor who struggled with math himself, has designed a teaching program that has some of the worst-performing math students performing well and actually enjoying math. There’s mounting evidence that the method works for all kids of all abilities.
Finally, or maybe foremost, is culture.
Just as in companies, the culture in a school is the determining factor on whether kids learn — or not.
The prevailing culture of many schools, especially the vaunted charter schools, has been one “no excuses.” A culture focused on regimentation and inflicted mostly on poor children of color.
But as any idiot knows, regimentation is not going to produce the next Marc Benioff or Larry Elison, So what does?
Ascend Public Charter Schools network began to retrain teachers to focus on social and emotional development. This provided the framework for creative problem solving to help prevent conflicts between students, or between teachers and students, from escalating.
Does it work? Is it making a measurable difference? Short answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
Around the same time that Ascend was transforming its culture, it put in place a new curriculum, more closely aligned with progressive schools, that focuses on intellectual inquiry rather than received knowledge. At Ascend’s lower and middle schools in Brownsville, passing grades on the annual state English test increased to 39 percent in 2016, from 22 percent in 2014, while the rate on the math test increased to 37 percent, from 29 percent. It’s hard to isolate the cause for the improvement, but it is likely to be a combination of both the academic and cultural changes, which makes Ascend a bold testing ground for the theory that children from low-income homes can be educated the same way as children from affluent families.
Finally, what about adult education, specifically the much ballyhooed MBA? Does it provide the education that provides the skills to climb the corporate ladder?
Not really, according to Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professorship of Management Studies at McGill University, who looked at CEOs from what is considered the most elite university on the planet: Harvard.
Joseph Lampel and I studied the post-1990 records of all 19. How did they do? In a word, badly. A majority, 10, seemed clearly to have failed, meaning that their company went bankrupt, they were forced out of the CEO chair, a major merger backfired, and so on. The performance of another 4 we found to be questionable.
I sent the article to another Harvard-educated CEO I know. His reaction?
Excellent article. Very true. It took me years to unlearn what I’d been taught at business school…
The article is well worth your time, especially if you, or someone you know, are considering spending the money/going into debt for your MBA.
One more irreverent note, compliments of CB Insights, that is oh, so, true.
Hack: How to hire MBAs
My co-founder Jon stumbled upon this hack to get lots of MBA resumes which I’m going to let you in on.
Whatever the job title, throw the word “strategic” in front of it.
Suniya Luthar, professor at Arizona State University, has done a lot of research on the subject.
The rich middle- and high-school kids, Luthar and her collaborators have studied show higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse on average than poor kids, and much higher rates than the national norm. They report clinically significant depression or anxiety or delinquent behaviors at a rate two to three times the national average.
She tripped over the situation by accident when comparing an inner-city school with a nearby high-income, suburban, mostly white school.
The results were not what she expected. In the inner-city school, 86 percent of students received free or reduced-price lunches; in the suburban school, 1 percent did. Yet in the richer school, the proportion of kids who smoked, drank, or used hard drugs was significantly higher—as was the rate of serious anxiety and depression.
The rash of suicides has gotten a lot of parental attention, but mostly focused outward, instead of seeing it as a parenting crisis, but the kids know.
Martha Cabot put up a YouTube video that eventually logged more than 80,000 views, and comments from parents all over the country. Sitting in her bedroom in a T-shirt, with curls falling loose from her ponytail, she confirmed many parents’ worst fears about themselves. “The amount of stress on a student is ridiculous,” Martha said. “Students feel the constant need at our school of having to keep up with all the achievements.” She was recording the video mostly for parents, she explained, because apparently it took a suicide to get adults to pay attention.
Sadly, the parental attention is in the form of calls for data to evaluate, statistics to analyze and meetings/discussions with experts, as if it is an engineering problem as opposed to a human one.
Our friends, colleagues and especially our children aren’t robots that can be reprogrammed at will.
In these days of assumed meritocracy, where children can be turned into anything, we admire them as displays of remarkable engineering, to be tweaked and fine-tuned into bilingual perfection. What we’ve lost, perhaps, is a sense that there may be things about them we can’t know or understand, and that that mysterious quality, separate from us, is what we should marvel at.
Read the entire article and send the link to every parent you know.
And for the rest of your life be the nonjudgmental, safe-to-talk-about-anything haven for every child with whom you come in contact.
At high schools across the United States, pressure over grades and competition for college admissions are encouraging students to abuse prescription stimulants, according to interviews with students, parents and doctors. Pills that have been a staple in some college and graduate school circles are going from rare to routine in many academically competitive high schools…
Kids are smart and many of them find it easy to con the family doctor in to writing a prescription, which turns them into entrepreneurs as they keep some and sell the rest to their schoolmates.
How will these kids perform when cramming isn’t an option and success depends on more than correct answers on a test?
How will these kids build sustainable, long-term careers, let alone companies?
How will they raise their children?
What will their effect be on America’s ability to compete globally?
This post is for the parents and friends of any person 13 to 18 years old anywhere in the world who loves science has the imagination to change the world, whether on a large or local basis.
That, and internet access, is all that’s needed to register for the Google Science Fair.
The registration deadline is April 4, 2011.
You go to google.com/sciencefair. You find the template that tells you how to register. It gives you all the categories that you can compete in. They are very broad; physics, biology, the environment and loads of other ones. Then, you design and build your experiment. You document it in any way you want, including, for instance, YouTube videos. You get it done on line for the judges. –Entrepreneur Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway.
The Google Science Fair is an amazing oportunity for all who enter, not just the winners.
I sincerely hope you will spread the word; don’t make assumptions as to who would be interested and who would not, just forward the information to all the kids and groups involved with kids you can think of.
Today is Earth Day and much will be written on what it will take to create a sustainable future for all life on our planet and it will be written by those far more knowledgeable than I.
The basis of the actions that must happen to assure a sustainable future is the MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) required to enable it. MAP is composed of three parts that are formed over time starting in early childhood. Mindset and attitude are the main focus; they are the ones most commonly written about and discussed.
But it is philosophy upon which the other two rest making it the most important and it is philosophy that most often is assumed or ignored—especially when it comes to young kids. After all, developing philosophy requires high level reasoning and common wisdom says that young kids can’t do it.
Matthew Lipman, then a professor at Columbia University, argued that children could think abstractly at an early age and that philosophical questioning could help them develop reasoning skills. … Professor Lipman’s view opposed that of the child-development theorist Jean Piaget, who asserted that children under 12 were not capable of abstract reasoning.
To build a truly sustainable future is more likely to happen if the changes required are driven by the ‘P’ in MAP, rather than by unthinking dogma and ideology.
You would think that anything that helped kids develop the kind of life skills that make for better citizens would be welcome, but the ability to conceptualize and reason are no longer the focus of education.
…many school officials either find the subject too intimidating or believe it does not fit with the test-driven culture of public education these days.
Building a sustainable future isn’t a function of multiple choice questions, so we, today’s adults, had better choose wisely the tools that are required and then see to it that the tomorrow’s adults can use them—or there won’t be much future for their children.
I just finished Mary Higgins Clark’s memoir. Hers is a name you see everywhere, books, TV movies and on the big screen. The memoir is a fast read, a fascinating peek into the world that shaped this master storyteller and some excellent insights on just plain living.
“When a child comes to you wanting to share something he or she has written of sketched, be generous with our praise. If it’s a written piece, don’t talk about the spelling or the penmanship; look for creativity and applaud it. The flame of inspiration needs to be encouraged. Put a glass around that small candle and protect it from discouragement or ridicule.
I wonder if any adult—parent or teacher—realizes that young people never forgive or forget being humiliated.”
This really hit home. In high school I took a creative writing class; one assignment was to write a short screenplay from which our teacher would choose a few to critique in class.
He started with the one he thought was best and proceeded through the others. Mine was among those chosen and he tore it to pieces, not professionally, but with sarcasm and zingers. He ended the critique by asking how any student could be so arrogant as to think that the writing had any value whatsoever.
Needless to say, the so-called anonymity was a joke and everyone knew who the authors were and my humiliation was extreme. It was 35 years before I creatively wrote again, but never stories—that desire was totally dead and buried.
Higgins Clark shares two old definitions of happiness that should resonate with everyone and if they don’t then you need to take a hard look at your values.
“If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for life, love what you do.”and“Something to have, someone to love, and something to hope for.”
Definitely food for thought as you start gearing up for the holidays.
Finally, following up thread I started Friday and have decided to continue tomorrow, “It is not always how we act, but how we react that tells the story of our lives.”
I hope you will join me tomorrow to see why, in many cases, coping is a far more productive activity than fixing, both at work and in life.
Where do you go when those four words describe your parents and your home life?
Where do you sleep; what do you eat?
When you’re cold and hungry you do what it takes to survive, including stealing and selling whatever you can find to sell—including yourself.
And these kids are as young as 10 years old.
The NT Times ran a two-part series called Running in the Shadows about teen runaways. It should be required reading for every American (part 1 and part 2).
Children on Their Own
This is the first of two articles on the growing number of young runaways in the United States, exploring how they survive and efforts by the authorities to help them.
Many cling together to avoid predators, but many more are seduced by pimps—it doesn’t take much.
“My job is to make sure she has what she needs, personal hygiene, get her nails done, take her to buy an outfit, take her out to eat, make her feel wanted,” said another pimp, Antoin Thurman, who was sentenced in 2006 to three years for pandering and related charges in Buckeye, Ariz. “But I keep the money.”
Out of frustration, Sgt. Byron A. Fassett of the Dallas Police Department started looking for patterns in child prostitution cases.
One stuck out: 80 percent of the prostituted children the department had handled had run away from home at least four or more times a year.
Fasset created a special “High Risk Victim” unit within the Dallas PD that has seen enormous success, both in getting kids out of that life and putting the pimps behind bars.
The unit’s strength is timing. If the girls are arrested for prostitution, they are at their least cooperative. So the unit instead targets them for such minor offenses as truancy or picks them up as high-risk victims, speaking to them when their guard is down. Only later, as trust builds, do officers and social workers move into discussions of prostitution.
Repeat runaways are not put in juvenile detention but in a special city shelter for up to a month, receiving counseling.
Three quarters of the girls who get treatment do not return to prostitution.
The results of the Dallas system are clear: in the past five years, the Dallas County district attorney’s office has on average indicted and convicted or won guilty pleas from over 90 percent of the pimps arrested. In virtually all of those cases, the children involved in the prostitution testified against their pimps, according to the prosecutor’s office. Over half of those convictions started as cases involving girls who were picked up by the police not for prostitution but simply as repeat runaways.
Those statistics are amazing. Here we have a case of initiative taken; leadership shown, and impressive success. Not a fancy approach, but a pragmatic one based on a proven pattern.
So why hasn’t it been applied across the nation?
In 2007, Congress nearly approved a proposal to spend more than $55 million for cities to create pilot programs across the country modeled on the Dallas system. But after a dispute with President George W. Bush over the larger federal budget, the plan was dropped and Congress never appropriated the money.
Just $55million dollars, that’s all; a drop in the bucket in comparison to most earmarks.
But, in their wisdom, our wonderful, elected leaders in Washington didn’t believe it had enough reelection value to make it worth fighting for—maybe this is what’s meant by throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Of course, these kids can’t vote, may not live long enough to vote, so it’s no big deal to the folks on their perpetual campaign trail.
Marvin commented that this also applied to families, saying, “It was a great reminder that people don’t leave families, they leave the leaders of that family. … Adequate husbands/fathers have a wife and kids, Good husbands/fathers provide for their wife and kids, Great husbands/fathers learn the individual needs of their wife and kids and serve them accordingly.”
I know from Marvin’s site that he is coming from a Christian perspective and I respect that.
However, I’m not willing to assume that the male is the ‘leader’ in a marriage—nor do I think the woman is (no offense to any same-sex couples reading this) and I certainly hope that the kids aren’t.
I think marriages should be partnerships, with both contributing to the vision and each leading within his/her strengths and supporting the other as appropriate—and I don’t mean this in the traditional sense.
Next, I’m not completely comfortable with the paraphrasing.
Having a wife and kids is possible for any male with $20 bucks for the license (it’s probably gone up) and active sperm and those two things certainly don’t make them adequate in my mind.
The ‘good’ ones provide what? Food, shelter and safety or more intangible things, such as love, respect and acceptance.
There’s nothing wrong with the definition of ‘great’ as long as it includes unconditional love, unconditional respect and unconditional acceptance for life choices—barring those that are illegal—that may not agree with others in the family.
I also think that ‘great’ is more than serving individual needs in kids; sometimes their needs shouldn’t be served or they will come to expect that. Serving is also about standing back and letting the kid make mistakes starting at a very young age. No parent serves their child by smoothing every kink, filling every pothole and easing every difficulty on the road to adulthood.
Serving is about being sure that kids are exposed to and learn to deal with the real world, one that doesn’t always live up to expectations or work the way one wants.
My own opinion is that this can’t happen if the child is raised in a homogenous environment spending their time with like-minded people. I also think it’s unfair to the kid, because eventually they’ll have to function in the real world, which is messy, diverse and often uncooperative.
This is as true whether it’s the Latino kids living in the Mission District of San Francisco being able to do everything in Spanish except school or the home-schooled kid whose entire world and contact revolves around their family and church.
Homogeny is crippling when it comes to producing adults who can move in a diverse, multicultural, multi-thought, multi-everything global economy.