Monday, October 8, 2012

Planning Nut

Some days I stand in the middle of the intersection.

Metaphorically, of course.

I like being at the intersection between highly creative people and more efficiency-driven people; the intersection of volunteerism and business; the intersection of work and family. Sometimes I have the knee-jerk reaction of wishing things were more consistent and stress-free, but then I remember...

When I was a kid, I used to ride my horse down the middle of the road when there were no cars around, right down that dotted yellow line.

I also used to ride my bike down the middle of the road when there were no cars around.

There is something so magical about the existing in the middle of the road, the intersections of various segments of our world.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Geeky friction

My young son was doing sack races on our hardwood floors this morning, using our soft, fuzzy flannel pillow cases as the sack.

You can probably guess what happened next.

My young son crashed into the hardwood floor, yelling that "Ow!" that parents for blocks can hear. My older son ran to him and scooped him up in his arms.

"Oh no, you fell? Your coefficient of friction was too low... (I didn't hear the next part because I was processing the sentence)... You know your friction would be larger if your mass was larger... (young son is quite skinny)."

Young son snuggles in deeply into old son's arm, feeling comforted. Between sniffles he mutters, "I didn't (sniff) have enough friction (sniff)."

I leave the two sons to talk for a minute and as I walk away I hear, "You know, normal force equals mg. You were standing up; you weren't sticking to the side of the wall." They laugh, sharing their secret geeky jokes as they ease the pain.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Speed Tolerance

Everybody lives at their own speed.

Some need a month to prep for a doctor's visit and if they need it in the next week, they are panicked.

Some do rapid scheduling and don't need notice.

I am thinking that a lot of conflicts arise when people working at different speeds can't adjust to the other.


I think I know where I am on the spectrum. I found out on Friday that I need to leave for Taipei on Monday. This is typical. This is actually considered "advance notice". The various obligations for next week can be canceled without me stressing over scheduling issues.

I'm loving it. I like this speed. It matches my insides. I am so glad I am surrounded (mostly) by people who can support me and my fam!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Chatter after school:

Child: "I made so many mistakes today!"

Parent: "Did you learn from them?"

Child: "Lots!"

Parent: "Cool!"

Yes, this is backpatting. Someone has got to pat it from time to time!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

We Will, We Will Rock You

My high school was:

* boring

* cliquish
* under-achieving.

The bar was set so very low.

So, at 15 yo, I took off overseas in search of a better high school education. I got it. But I didn't want my own kids to *leave the country* in order to access an experience that would challenge them in their teen years.

Vee & Keee are getting such a bizarrely rich education. Their math teacher is an MIT grad, ran the Dept of Health in two states, eep, and five years into retirement, Berkeley High called him and asked, "School starts in five days. Can you teach our Calculus class?"

Cool thing about this type of hiring -- the teacher has got nothing to lose. He his only concern is the kids. He doesn't really care if he keeps his job, but he does care if he gets through to the kids and leaves a legacy of knowledge and striving for excellence (and a lot of math-jokes goofing-off).

Other teachers are straight out of their masters program. Many from overseas. All, or at least all I have seen, have a deep motivation to teach -- forget the system and its requirements (or be so young you don't know it yet). Clear sitght -- do these kids know how to write? Can they speak extemporanesouly? Do they still have that spark of curiousity? If not, how do I respark it? Can they study hard? Can they push past that point of resistance? If so (who cares why) how can I help them build that muscle? What crazy thing can I do in class to get the ones who have been deadened to wake up?

Stand on the desks?

Attack the first student with a cell phone that rings?

Break into classrooms randomly and sing the periodic table?

Give the kids X-box remotes to take a group test with?

Yes, there are some weird teachers who do crazy things to wake up the kids.

If you ever want to see that the teenage years can be full of searching-for-knowledge (instead of what people normally say the teenage years are full of) then come with me to Berkeley High's Open House next year.

It's rough around the edges. Most definitely.

But that's how things get sharp.

What I want for Christmas

What I want *every day* for my kids is a good school, a real education, an engaging and invigorating environment that enriches their natural talents and encourages them to build new talent. Right?

Here are a few random points from what Aee's teacher talked about at Back-to-School Night:

* It took her no longer than three minutes to get to the part about "differentiating instruction for each child". Usually it takes teachers longer than that. If they get there at all. Differentiating instruction is difficult in any situation other than one-on-one tutoring.

* I have never heard "differentiating talk before, but it is usually in a flufy way. I hadn't heard someone speakd so specifically. She said she differentiates for *every* child. I'll have to see this to believe it. For now, I know that she's giving Aee appropriate reading (big delicious-looking chapter books!), spelling (big tough-looking words), math (exercises that are right up her alley) and other work that seems to fit her wonderfully. Her work is different from her peers. There's a chance that each child's work is different from the other. We'll see more as the year goes on.

I always suspected it was possible to fully differentiate a classroom, but the closest I have ever seen is teachers putting children on 'tracks" or in "groups" or otherwise segrating groups of kids who fit into a close-enough-to-this-peer category.

Yesterday when I came to pick the kids up from their afterschool program, I saw Aee and her teacher sitting on one of the picnic benches outside, under the trees which were blowing a bit in the wind. Aee was doing a reading test, smiling (at the book, not at me). When the teacher and Anna saw me, they both said, "Aw, we're not ready yet!" The teacher asked if I could come back in a little bit.

It was 4:40 pm.

My comment was, "Are you doing testing outside of school hours so that you can generally improve the quality of instrution during regular classtime?"

She smiled and turned back to the test.


Thursday, September 17, 2009


Tonight, at 10:01 pm, my son said, "I'm going to go comatose now and hallucinate vividly, then maybe in the morning I will have amnesia about those hallucinations. See ya."

Translated: "I'm going to bed now. See ya."