(originally published on MiddleWeb)
Alfie Kohn is one of my educational heroes. His thoughts and work have infused my practice for decades, as well as that of a number of my colleagues, and from our first days in 2004, these principles have provided key foundations and touchpoints for our middle school program. I follow him on Twitter, and read nearly everything he shares.
(title courtesy of Nancy Flanagan)During the early summer heat wave in Europe, stories were turning up all over the Internet about boys wearing skirts to school and men wearing dresses to work. Jake Steward (our English Department Chair) sent me an email one day with a link to an article I hadn’t yet seen (though it began to crop up increasingly frequently), “ Teenage Boys Turn Up at Devon School Dressed in Skirts.” At one level, these boys may not have made that choice if (in order of ease of remedy) a) their schools had a dress code that permitted boys to wear shorts, b) their schools had air-conditioning, and/or c) climate change wasn’t contributing to ever more extreme weather patterns. But at another level, there was fairly rapid and widespread buy-in to the skirt protest. I’m honestly not sure that would have been true just five years ago, no matter what the weather.
Early this morning, one of our English teachers posted that she would be needing someone to cover E period because one of her children was sick. Four minutes later, I saw it and immediately wrote and offered to help. But I was too late, as it turned out - one of my colleagues in the Performing Arts Department had already grabbed the chance.
As a Rock Band teacher, I try to keep my eye out for kids, especially girls, who have talent and whom I can help promote on social media. One such artist is Sina from Germany, a 16-year-old girl who first came to YouTube fame at the age of 14; her drum cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” now has nearly 3,000,000 views. Earlier today, YouTube recommended I listen to her (amazing!) international collaboration with two 12-year-old girls of the classic “Smoke in the Water”; it’s nearing 100,000 views after just three weeks.
Because we are on spring break this International Women’s Day, the question of whether and how we might be participating in the national “day without women” never really came up. I’ve heard of public school districts where sufficient numbers of women have requested the day off that they have simply cancelled classes for the day, and here at my wife’s school (a girls school which is still in session), some of the kids have expressed their desire to participate.
Suppose our own school were in session and had made plans to participate. What might a day without women have looked like?
(title based on a quote by Graham Hays)
As of today, two teams share the record for the longest win streak in college basketball - the UConn women’s team of 2008-2010, and the current team. They have tied and are poised to break this record in a year they were supposed to be, by UConn standards anyway, weaker than usual. After winning four championships in four years, Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck had left for the WNBA as the top three draft choices. This was supposed to be UConn’s rebuilding year. Under those circumstances, you’d think UConn’s players would be feeling acute pressure. “But the Huskies were smiling too soon -- [Katie] Samuelson grinning from ear to ear even before the ball was tipped -- for the joy to be the product of the play. The joy had to be the source.” (Graham Hays)
Today is the 19th birthday of Malala Yousafzai, and we join millions and millions of people in wishing her a happy birthday and many happy returns. To celebrate her 16th birthday, Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, designated July 12 “Malala Day” and she addressed that assembly with a now-iconic speech, asserting it was not her day but rather the "day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised a voice for their rights." (Malala, quoted in Bai).
Thank you to all the parents, family, guests, and alumnae who have come to share this special day with us, the Class of 2016. Thank you to the teachers, faculty, and staff for getting us this far. Thank you to all our friends and schoolmates who have helped to make our last year worthwhile. Today we are gathered in our gymnatorium, as Ann likes to call it, in order to celebrate another significant milestone in our lives. Like other milestones, we may not always appreciate it as much as we do now or remember the amount of work that we put into getting here, but that does not make it any less consequential.
There’s nothing quite like realizing, about three minutes into a debate, that despite having served as assistant debate coach here for a number of years and even having been principal coach for two French language debate teams, you have never actually personally done a debate in 40 years, since you were a sophomore in high school. That’s especially true when your students are watching - as is Paul Bassett, the award-winning debate coach with whom you once served all those years ago. It was honestly completely nerve-wracking. Fortunately, I have over 40 years of experience as a performing musician on which to draw to help me keep my poise even as my adrenaline started pumping. Still, I could have been easily forgiven for wishing we had 12 students in the class instead of 11, and I could have just served as a judge instead of agreeing, at student request, to participate in order to keep the teams balanced.