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smart parents, surprisingly powerful

I was honored to be asked to contribute to the new book, Smart Parents: Parenting for Powerful Learning. I wanted to share the challenge of finding the right educational opportunities for my kids and the uncertainty that comes along with being dissatisfied with what traditional education has to offer. And I also wanted to share the confusion and messiness of questioning that very dissatisfaction and questioning even more all the different approaches our family has used to address it. It’s hard to hear your own beat when the band is playing so loudly. It’s hard to risk alternative educational opportunities for your kids when your community is more than satisfied with the traditional. None of us want to get it wrong.

So I was blown away when I had the chance to read the final book. Not only did it articulate things that I didn’t know how to express, it painted a picture where our family is not alone in our struggle to provide more for our kids.

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let’s stop preparing kids to hate their work

This article contains a somewhat longer version of a TEDx talk I presented at TEDx PSUBerks on November 14, 2014. The chance to give a talk in this format was a great opportunity to for me to synthesize the different strands of my work over this past decade as an executive, an education advocate, and a mom. It let me get to the heart of what is most human for me inside our traditional institutions. And it was all inspired by the theme of a lovely TEDx: “Love and Education.” Videos from the event are being posted over time here. 4/20/2015 – Update: My video is now posted – see above. Unfortunately the sound quality is poor.



When my son was three, he did that thing. You know? Where he sat in a chair and started tipping it back on two legs? So what immediately came to my mind, of course, was “Stop That! You’re going to break your neck,” which would have been an overreaction, a lie, and really, an instinct to control my child for his own good and my peace of mind. So instead I got down to eye level with him, got his attention, and told him, “If you keep doing that there is a chance, a chance the chair will slip and you will fall down and hurt yourself.” I wanted him to have a realistic framework for thinking about risky behavior, and a framework for building trust.

My son and his sister are adolescents now and I worry about more than risky behavior. I worry whether the relationships they’re about to start developing are going to be healthy ones. I want them to feel deeply, in their bones, that respectful, accepting relationships are normal and that controlling, demeaning relationships are weird and wrong. So with far more love than know-how, I’ve stumbled through trying to raise them without all of the power imbalances that usually come with being a kid: They know it’s not polite for them to interrupt adults, but I’ve also taught them that it is not polite for adults to interrupt them. And that my desire to get the shopping done while I’m in the mood is no more valid than their desire to finish building that toothpick sculpture. So to whatever degree this philosophy may have had an effect, I may, I hope, have ruined my kids for controlling relationships

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the art of warcraft – executive leadership development through gaming


When is playing video games actually a seminar in executive leadership?  When the game is an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game) and the stakes seem high – just as high as the goals, accomplishments, recognition, disappointments, and politics in your workplace.

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the learning resources that liberated a family

This article was first published at Getting Smart on Feb21, 2013

postpic4In my previous post, I wrote about the school experience I wish for my own children.  Today I am going to write about how as a family we have taken advantage of local and distant learning resources that allow us to treat education as a set of “platform services” that we can use to create a customized learning experience for each of our kids. Read more

prototyping education as a platform

This article was first published at Getting Smart on Feb 20, 2013

em5I wish school were different for my children.  As a mom living in a school district with excellent schools, high test scores and property values, research-based practices, and warm, thoughtful educators who care about my kids you would think I would be satisfied. But like generations of parents before me, I want more for my kids than what I had.  Read more

finally, math apps show r.e.s.p.e.c.t.

This article was originally posted on Getting Smart on April 10, 2012

There are no really good math apps out there. I’ve been convinced of this for some time based on nearly a decade of trying everything from online courses to video-game-like drills to the more recent iPad apps and flash cards. Available offerings tend to be inauthentic, in that they encourage rote procedures over real problem solving. They tend to be uninspired – either a direct translation of textbook approaches from the lecture hall to the video screen, or drill-and-kill practice with a veneer of video gaming that is intended to motivate students. Worst of all, they tend to be disrespectful of our students’ capacities, of their curiosity, and of their time. This week, though, I had the chance to play around with ST Math and found math software that actually treats us with respect. Read more

obedience vs. cooperation

In my last post, I wrote about the pitfalls of compliant employees – they don’t have the chance to develop the good judgment needed to be effective in the unpredictable and rapidly changing business environments that we currently live in.  The same dynamic shows up with our children as with our employees.

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